Friday, 15 April 2016

e-revolution

We need to move past myths about e-language that the physical constraints of the new media will inevitably diminish our appetite for sustained text and thought.

Emails, Facebook, Text messages, Twitter, YouTube, some experts argue threaten to infantilise the brain. Some also say that social media is used at the expense of all other forms.

In other words, if the words, if the electronic uprising excludes other writing completely, we probably would be left thinking in short snatches.

But that is akin to saying that if the only sport we played was football, then no one would be good at tennis.....that's a big and unlikely "if".

These arguments remind me of the moral panic that has beset every new form of communication. People claimed the printing press was the devil's tool because it could disseminate lies. The telephone was going to cause family breakdown because we would stop talking to each other in person.

Now social media will deteriorate our brains because we are going to abandon all other forms of writing!

There is no credible evidence to support this assumption. Schools still require essays. Workplaces still produce reports. Universities still award degrees for these. Writers still publish books.

Writing in the new media is not a replacement but an addition to traditional genres. Much of it is a hybrid form somewhere between speech and formal writing.

It means kids are, in fact, doing a lot more writing and mastering a much wider range of styles.

"I hear YouTube, Twitter and Facebook are merging to form a super Social Media site – YouTwitFace.
~~ Conan O’Brien, The Tonight Show (June 2009)



These bookends have been part of my life for many decades. I am sure books aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Cloud Watching

When we pause to look up from our earthbound scurrying, we will see that the skies offer an ever-changing drama.

Clouds shift and flow and move: the sky is never the same two seconds in a row.

As the sun moves, so the colours change and the interplay between the wind, the temperature and the sun create spectacles of infinite variety.

Clouds will form themselves into fantastic shapes, even for a second appearing to resemble an object from our world: a rabbit, a saucepan, a dragon or a heart.

Then they are gone, ever-changing, formless yet with form, solid yet fluid at once.

Clouds are natures poetry.

"Look up, marvel at the ephemeral beauty and live life with your head in the clouds"

"Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add colour to my sunset sky"
~~ Rabindranath Tagore


Sunset Glenelg near Adelaide, South Australia
 April 2014
 

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Kids Give The Best Advice


The older we become the more we tend to be influenced by our experience and set in our ways.

Children on the other hand have a much less tainted view of things. They tend to see things from a totally different perspective than adults.

Because children have fewer assumptions (if any) and are less inhibited they tend to give a more honest and black and white view of the world.

Often they'll give us a totally left of field response without any concern for convention.

SO ASK A KID!

Mind you you'll need to phrase things in a simpler way - which in it's own right is a good thing!

"Adults are always asking little kids what they want to be when they grow up because they're looking for ideas"
~~ Paula Poundstone




 
 
 
 
This young boy is my teacher!
Top to bottom - Joseph 2015 aged 9, 2010 aged 4, 2009 aged 3, 2008 aged 2, 2007 aged 6 months and 1 day old 2006)

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Seekers of Light

There is a small plaque in a quiet and picturesque waterside park in Northwood, Sydney, commemorating the exceptional Australian artist, Lloyd Rees.

For much of his life Rees lived nearby and used the bays and inlets viewed from the park frequently as an inspiration for his landscapes. I often walk to this park as it is one of my favourite spots.

Lloyd was a true seeker of light. His paintings, especially in the last twenty years of his life when his eyesight was fading, were filled with light and washed colours. The memorial plaque at Northwood records one of his beliefs, "If you look for light you find it."

The quest for light has always been important to me. Mine is not a search for literal light - more, the search for direction, a message, a cleaning away of uncertainty and the recognition of inner spirit and authenticity.

Occasionally, life seems to be a chasm - a pit I slip and slide into. There is sometimes a sense of overwhelming darkness and no light ahead. What I have learned is that there is always light, I'm just not looking for it in the right place. I am probably searching for it straight ahead, the most obvious place to look when, if I would only glance to my right or left, I would glimpse its radiance.

That special light can come from any direction. A chance remark, a line in a magazine which starts me thinking, the sound of children playing, the words of a song, a comment overheard on the bus - all and any can give insight and a way through. When times are tough I have now learnt to keep my ears and heart open.

Whenever everyday problems overwhelm us, it is a relief when we see a solution, when we know what to do, when we understand the reason for something and the lessons contained within it.

The light is always there......we just need to look in a different direction.

Lloyd Rees painting Northwood Point, Sydney Harbour, 1978

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Déjà Vu Sensations


There are many theories as to what causes déjà vu.

One holds that our "spirit" can actually travel faster in time than our earthbound bodies so it charges off into the future from time to time for reasons we can't explain.

Another claims that it's because we are reincarnated and old memories from past lives are seeping through into our current consciousness.

And then there's the parallel Universe theory that suggests our lives are always splitting off into different directions whenever we make big decisions and that at the point of experiencing déjà vu we are connecting with these parallel worlds.

All of which rather ignores the actual sensation of déjà vu that is simply joyous and mesmerising regardless of what it actually is.

Déjà vu experiences stay with us too, logging themselves into our memory banks where they can be withdrawn whenever those "déjà vu" conversations occur, usually over a few glasses of wine late at night!


"There's an opposite to déjà vu. They call it jamais vu. It's when you meet the same people or visit places, again and again, but each time is the first. Everybody is always a stranger. Nothing is ever familiar."
~~ Chuck Palahniuk



Top photo is a sketch penned by my friend Dianne in 2004 after she has suffered a stroke in 1999. She said it described how she felt when everything was muddled in her brain.

When Annemarie and I were in Norway in July 2010 and we stopped at this place for a short while, an eeriness came over me as I photographed this scene. I wanted to hop in that boat and paddle into the mist.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

OLW 2016 - LISTEN

Each January I choose a word to focus on for the year. For 2016 my word is LISTEN.

Relating to my word, I came across this beautiful story narrated by the prominent Buddhist teacher and Psychologist Jack Kornfield. It touched my soul and I felt I needed to share it with my blogging friends.

"In Africa. There is a story that illustrates the quality of listening that can come through meditation.

In a particular East African tribe or village when a child is born they don't count the birthday of that child from the day the child comes from its mother’s body or even the day it is conceived as in certain other cultures, but rather from when that child was first a thought in its mothers mind, that is the real birthday.

And as soon as the mother realizes that she would like to have a child with this particular partner, she will go off and sit out in a field under a tree, and listen, and wait until she can hear the song of the child that wants to be born in her heart that will come from the wedding or the coming together with this particular man.

And when she hears this song, she sings it to herself, and then returns back to the village and teaches it to her partner so that when they make love together, joined together in love, they sing this song and invite this child to be born.

And later as she is pregnant. She sings the song to the child in the womb and teachers it to midwives so that when the child is born the first song or sound that it hears is those gathered around singing its own unique song.

And as the child grows the people of the village learn the song of this person so that when he falls or she falls and hurts herself someone picks her up and sings her song to her, or in the rites of passage or rituals of the village the song is sung, the wedding ceremony where both songs are sung until finally even at the end of life, the song of this child now as an old man or women is sung for the last time, and say their last words...

When I first heard the story in it touched in me a longing to live in a place where we heard one anothers songs, where we were so in tune with ourselves and with one another that we could greet each other in that way, to meditate allows us to hear the song within ourselves and to be respectful and hear the song of those around us."
~~ Jack Kornfield

Do you know your song? Can you hear the song of others?

Take the time to listen.

"Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. When we really listen to people there is an alternating current, and this recharges us so that we never get tired of each other. We are constantly being re-created."
~~ Brenda Ueland



This gorgeous pig and I became friends when I visited the Philippines in October 2015, we talked and listened to each other every day.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Visualise

If you don't know where you are going, then how will you get there?

This is what I do:
  • make pictures in my mind 
  • see the destination
  • imagine my arrival 
  • dream in perfect detail 
  • make myself a road map 
  • study it every day until I know the way and the destination by heart 
  • see myself the way I want to be when I arrive 
  • see myself arriving.

A childhood in the moon. By Benoit Moraillon. Boy sitting on moon, pulling up the daylight - Found this artwork on Pinterest.



Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Thoughts

Let us consistently choose the single goal of peace rather than multiple goals that lead to conflict.


Let us continue to practice forgiveness.

Let us look lovingly upon the present, for it holds only knowledge that is forever true.

Let us continue to be involved in a process of personal transformation in which we are only concerned about giving and not about getting.

Let us be the love and light the world so desperately needs.
"If you're waiting for the right time......time never comes, time only goes"
~~ Azereth Skivel

Sculpture at Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney - September 2014 by Peter Tilley - He called this sculpture "Hesitation"




Saturday, 31 October 2015

My Endeavour

To appreciate what comes.

To be curious.

To talk to the monsters.

To dance dance dance!

(The Ting Tings - now playing - certainly help with the dancing)

"The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating -- in work, in play, in love."
~~ Anne Morriss

Had another glorious day at Sculpture by the Sea in Bondi, Sydney on Thursday. Perfect weather and fabulous sculptures.  This one was created by Ben Fasham from Victoria, Australia

This sculpture by Mike Van Dam from Queensland, Australia is called Intervention.
His statement - "In the early 1970's there were estimated to be fewer than 200 humpback whales left.  Now, with help from us there are more than 20,000"

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Take the Leap - Go Forth

Often the more money and material goods we have, the more we want - and the less they bring us satisfaction. I've come to realise the real key to feeling good is to give and keep on giving. When we stop putting a monetary value on what we do, it can be immensely liberating.

We also have an obsession with happiness as though it were yet another purchasable product.

As a child I once tried to stand in the end of a rainbow to feel the colours on me. I ran back and forth across a wet field with friends shouting directions across the cow pats.

But rainbows can't be seen from close up. The irony of happiness as a product is that it disappears when we look directly at it, as ephemeral as that rainbow.


When we are young we jump into a pool whether we can swim or not. We have no fear.  Either we swim or we drown.
Before the age of 30 important things happen to us which shape the rest of our lives.  We become aware of ourselves and our own thinking.  We reach the age of reason.  In our new-found maturity we begin to think in a more adult way. We become grown up! Recklessness and risk are not compatible with age.  Risk becomes something which must be carefully considered.

Or is it!!!

We all have a negative voice in our heads that stops us from taking risks. Ask yourself what you really have to lose. Most of the time it's about ego and less about any real loss. Go first. Have the courage to do something before waiting to see if others are willing.

“Two bubbles found they had rainbows on their curves.
They flickered out saying:
"It was worth being a bubble, just to have held that rainbow thirty seconds.”
 

~~ Carl Sandburg


I was out walking with a friend around Palm Beach in Sydney and this Magpie came up to us and seemed to have some advice to offer.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Flourish or Struggle

Like plants, to some degree, all of us struggle or flourish according to where we are positioned. Our lives can be hard or easy depending on where the pot is placed. 
Most of us, I think, have had this experience: behaving quite differently according to the people in the room at the time. With some people we feel in perpetual shadow; with others, the sunlight seems to angle in and we are aglow.

With one friend you feel as if you are quite intelligent, discussing erudite issues of politics or literature. You are witty, insightful; the right phrase springs into your mouth at the right time. The very next night, in the company of someone else, you feel dumb and boring. Anxiety or insecurity grips so strongly that the right word, the witty phrase, can never fight its way through to the surface.

I've been thinking about the subtleties of positioning - how the sunlight can hit us when we are standing on this spot, but not in this other spot.

Why, then, don't we strive harder to move into the sun? 

Why don't we spend more time with those who bring out our best selves, and less with those who bring a nuclear winter? Perhaps we could all send out the mental note: ''Paul Whatchamacallit, I know I'm booked in for a barbecue with you on Saturday week but suddenly I find that I am busy. I'm off to spend time with people who think I'm fabulous. And guess what? When I'm with them, I mostly prove them right.''

The best compliment you can pay someone is to say, ''I like the person I am when I'm with you''.
 
"Yeah we all shine on, like the moon, and the stars, and the sun."
~~ John Lennon - Instant Karma



My friend Rose grows these beautiful orchids and has them in the perfect position for them to flourish.


These lovely women are a joy to spend time with and I feel so blessed to call each of them my friend.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Spiritual Virtual Reality

Dreamland is the original cyberspace, our own built-in spiritual virtual reality.

Our dreams take us into other worlds, alternative realities that help us make sense of day-to-day life.

Dreaming is a connection to our unconscious, to our selves.

It is to be treasured.

Isn't it extraordinary that an activity which takes up so much of our lives is so often relegated into the realms of unimportance.

We are based on dreams, they are our centre.

Listen to them.

"Dreams are like stars....you may never touch them, but if you follow them they will lead you to your destiny."
~~ Anonymous


Taken in Wisconsin, USA in August 2010. It was early in the morning and we had gone to the pier to watch the Tall ships arrive. As you could imagine we saw very little.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Window Into Another World

We're told we're hiding in the shadow of others if we don't "achieve" as much as we could.


Also shadows are said to be where bad people lurk!

But shadows are the essence of something far more meaningful than a reflection of physical form. Shadows are the corners of our mind the light of reason rarely touches.

They offer a window into another world. The world of eternal darkness that all too many of us love to fear.

It was the Chinese Han dynasty that gave us shadow puppets. One of Emperor Wu of Han's concubines died and he was so stricken with grief that he ordered his servants to raise her from the dead, and so, with a lamp and a figure made of donkey leather, they brought her shadow back to life.

Things turn even more eerie when it comes to shadow people. These are dark figures that are said to inhabit our peripheral vision (accompanied by a feeling of terrible dread) only to vanish if you try to look at them directly.

But these metaphors of fear hide a much more relaxing and wonderful truth.

Those dark corners of the mind are not full of fear and woe, but are the first steps on the path of truth if we allow ourselves to find out more about them.
"When walking through the "valley of shadows", remember, a shadow is cast by a Light"
~~ Austin O'Malley

I have just purchased this painting called "Shadow Watching" by Judy Prosser an artist from Broome, Western Australia
I love her work.



Sunday, 31 May 2015

How We Change People's Lives

The scene is in my mind still. Actor Robin Williams, playing the role of teacher John Keating, in the movie "Dead Poets' Society", is discussing in hushed tones the Latin phrase Carpe Diem, with his bemused pupils during an early encounter.

"Seize the day, gentlemen. Seize the day". Those words sent a shiver down my spine. They filled my mind. To this day they carry a powerful message for me. The Robin Williams character encouraged his students to open their hearts and minds to their dreams and follow through with actions.

Sometimes, as the movie showed, dreams may not be understood by others. Yet those experiences we have when we reach up and out, to extend ourselves, are the experiences and emotions we remember with great affection for the rest of our lives. They are the technicolour passages of our lives.

Many people live black, white and grey lives. Just notice the colour of the clothing they wear most days. A passing brushstroke of colour may influence them only occasionally. Those who are bold enough to seize the day are seizing life and its challenges. They dare to dream. They dare to be different.

There are always exceptional teachers for us, and not just at school. I'm sure you have heard that perceptive quote, "When the pupil is ready the teacher will come". When you sincerely wish to discover why, how, when and where, the teacher quietly arrives. Be ready. The teacher can just as quietly leave if the pupil is not tuned in.

Most of us never ever understand just how we change people's lives with a comment or remark. When we say what they think, show what we feel, make a fool of ourselves if necessary, we encourage ourselves and our friends to push against the bars of the cage of safety to enlarge its dimensions. I know it is better to lose on my feet than to play on my knees.

I am learning through volunteering, philosophy, blogging and my friends to enjoy the experiences, the scenery, the weather, the food, the "everything". I want to stretch myself and live with passion.....in other words I want to "seize the day".

“The future depends on what you do today.” 
~~ Mahatma Gandi


Photo taken in Christchurch, New Zealand, December 2014 at one on the Gap Filler sites.
 I always "seize the day" when invited to New Zealand by my friends Celia and Marja. 


Friday, 1 May 2015

Do You Ask Enough Questions?

Asking the right question in order to get ourselves thinking, really thinking - there is so much truth in this.

When we can ask that question, at the right moment, and that gives us clarity of direction, how powerful this can be in our lives. And set us off in a direction that has deep meaning to us individually.

I believe very much that this is where it’s at - when we can reach that spot of deep meaning in our own lives - getting to this spot is so life affirming.

These questions I found while surfing the web have no right or wrong answers, because sometimes asking the right questions is the answer.

1. How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?

2. Which is worse, failing or never trying?

3. Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing?

4. To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken?

5. Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things?

6. What’s something you know you do differently than most people?

7. What one thing have you not done that you really want to do? What’s holding you back?

8. Have you been the kind of friend you want as a friend?

9. Which is worse, when a good friend moves away, or losing touch with a good friend who lives right near you?

10. Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones?

11. Have you ever been with someone, said nothing, and walked away feeling like you just had the best conversation ever?

12. Is it possible to know, without a doubt, what is good and what is evil?

13. When was the last time you marched into the dark with only the soft glow of an idea you strongly believed in?

14. When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards, and just go ahead and do what you know is right?

15. If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake?

16. Decisions are being made right now. The question is: Are you making them for yourself, or are you letting others make them for you?

"I cannot stress enough that the answer to life's questions is often in people's faces.  Try putting your iPhones down once in a while, and look in people's faces.  People's faces will tell you amazing things, like if they are angry or nauseous or asleep"
~~ Amy Poehler


I took this photo in January 2011 when hiking with friends at Seal Cave, near Stoney Bay on the Banks Peninsula Track on the South Island of New Zealand. It would be a perfect spot to contemplate some of these questions.




Saturday, 4 April 2015

Everything is Temporary

Thoughts on a cold, wet Saturday in Sydney, Australia

We all make choices in our life, the hard thing to do is to live with them.

We all make mistakes that we want to put behind us.

To be good at anything we have to make a routine of it.

Social media have changed the way we work, the way we live, and the way we make and maintain friendships.

Hope tomorrow the sun will shine again as Keren Ann quoted "Everything is temporary. Everything is bound to end"
 
"Never make permanent decisions on temporary feelings."
~~ Wiz Khalifa

Rookwood Cemetery Hidden Sculptures 16 Sept 2014, Sydney Australia
"Your always in my thoughts"
 



Sunday, 29 March 2015

Our Two Selves

Who/What is the stronger our Want-Self or our Should-Self?

How often do you find when decisions are being made, our want-selves take over and we do things that ignore the ethical implications of our actions.

Psychologists say we have different systems for wanting things and liking things. So some of the stuff we really want, and spend a lot of time pursuing, doesn't give us as much satisfaction as we thought it would once we've got it.

This explains why children will spend weeks nagging parents to buy them a guitar or a pet but quickly lose interest once they have it.

One of the most ubiquitous problems in daily life is achieving self-control.

We need to control our natural urges to eat too much, to smoke, to drink too much, to gamble too much, spend too much, watch too much television, get too little exercise and even to work too much.

Here, again, we seem to have two selves at work: an unconscious self that's emotional and shortsighted and a conscious self that's reasoning and farsighted.

We have trouble controlling ourselves in circumstances where the benefits are immediate and certain, whereas the costs are longer-term and uncertain.

When we come home tired from work, for instance, the benefits of slumping in front of the telly are immediate, whereas the costs - feeling tired the next day; looking back on our life and realising we could have done a lot better if we had got off our backside and played a bit of sport, sought a further qualification at tech, spent more time talking to our partner/children/friends etc - are not so clear-cut.

Similarly, the reward from eating food is instant whereas the costs of overeating are uncertain and far off: being regarded as physically unattractive, becoming obese, becoming a diabetic, dying younger, etc.

As everyone who has tried to diet, give up smoking, control their drinking, save or get on top of their credit card debt knows, it's hard to achieve the self-control our conscious, future-selves want us to achieve.

"The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn."
~~ David Russell


These are a few of my small treasures on the window sill in my kitchen.


Monday, 16 February 2015

2015 International Year of Light

What a wonderful resolution by the United Nations to declare 2015 as the International Year of Light.

They want to raise global awareness by focusing on the topic of light science and its applications and how light-based technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health.

It is the year for thoughts and discussion around light to fill minds with bright opportunities and ‘light-bulb moments’.

Well that is quite a statement isn't it!

Light plays a very important role in my life.

My life hasn't always been as happy as it is now.  Many years ago I was caught in a very dark tunnel, all consumed with sadness and fearing I would never see the light at the end of the tunnel again.

I was struggling with a mental illness, my heart had been broken and I was ready to give up......it seemed like an endless state of despair.

Hitting rock bottom and surviving gave me the jolt I needed to ask for help from counsellors and anti-depressant drugs and also volunteering played a big role in my recovery.  Finally I had to find a way to remove myself from the people who upset me and take some control back.

Ever so slowly I regained my self-worth and that all important light returned to my life.

Light now fills my soul, as I hope it does yours, my dear blog friends.

"Mental illness is the last frontier.  The gay thing is part of everyday life now on a show like 'Modern Family', but mental illness is still full of stigma.  Maybe it it time for that to change"
~~ Eric McCormack


"Don't you know yet? It is your Light that lights the worlds" ~~ Rumi

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Slow Down and Focus

The world most of us live in is hectic, fast-paced, fractured, hurried.
What’s more, most of us are conditioned to think this is the way life should be.

Life should be lived at break-neck speed, we believe. We risk our lives in cars and we break the speed limit, rushing from one place to another. We do one thing after another, multi-tasking and switching between tasks as fast as we can blink.

All in the name of productivity, of having more, of appearing busy, to ourselves and to others.

But life doesn't have to be this way. In fact, I’d argue that it’s counterproductive.

If our goal is to create, to produce amazing things, to go for quality over quantity, then rushing is not the most effective way to work. Slowing down and focusing is always more effective.

Rushing produces errors. It’s distracting to flit from one thing to the next, with our attention never on one thing long enough to give it any thought or create anything of worth.

Hurrying produces too much noise to be able to find the quiet the mind needs for true creativity and profound thinking.

So yes, moving quickly will get more done. But it won’t get the right things done.

The most important step is a realization that life is better when you move at a slower, more relaxed pace, instead of hurrying and rushing and trying to cram too much into every day. Instead, get the most out of every moment.

Is a book better if you speed read it, or if you take your time and get lost in it?

Is a song better if you skim through it, or if you take the time to really listen?

Is food better if you cram it down your throat, or if you savour every bite and really appreciate the flavour?

Life is better when unrushed. And given the fleeting nature of this life, why waste even a moment by rushing through it?

"Slow down and enjoy life.  It's not only the scenery you miss by going too fast - you also miss the sense of where you are going and why"
~~ Eddie Cantor

View for the Cahill Expressway, Sydney Australia. Walking with a friend last September, I stopped and took this photo after climbing the stairs. I love my city!


Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Paradoxes of Life

It's one of the great paradoxes of human psyche.....we want to be left in our comfort zones and yet we thrive on the experience of being taken out of them!

Our intuitive understanding of that is why, even among the most settled and comfortable of us, there's a lurking desire for something to happen.

Perhaps that helps explain a fundamental contradiction in our attitudes to this thing called "peace of mind". We claim to be yearning for it, yet we often act as if that's a mere fantasy. We say we want to slow down, de-stress and learn how to relax. We pay a fortune to massage therapists, yoga teachers, acupuncturists and other practitioners in our search for relief.

We seek counselling; we attend meditation classes; we swallow tranquillisers; we drink too much; we cling desperately to "the short break" as a kind of high-octane holiday, or the furious weekly work-out at the gym to compensate for the lack of gentler more integrated exercise every day. We push ourselves to extremes, high on endorphins, mistaking exhaustion for contentment. The struggle to find ways of reducing our stress often looks stressful in itself.

Are we fooling ourselves with all this talk about de-stressing, simplifying and slowing down? Some people have found personal pathways to peace yet many more act as if stillness is tantamount to death! Most of us seem addicted to stimulation and find silence hard to cope with, even in small doses - like a pause in the conversation. Yet even the most restless souls occasionally claim to hanker after "peace of mind".

Observing these swirling contradictions, I'm tempted to ask: is the buzz, the rush, the stimulation generated by our busy-ness, something we crave - and perhaps even need - more that the stability and calm we often say we want? Most of us would say we SHOULD be trying to strike a balance between the two but why does the achievement of that balance seem so elusive?

I suspect it's because many of us actually welcome distractions from questioning the meaning and purpose of our lives. We half-know that, if deeply examined in a contemplative moment, such questions might lead us to a radical rethink about the way we live.

If we were all preoccupied with the quest for personal peace, perhaps nothing would get done - too much om and not enough oomph doesn't sound like the right balance either. After all, it's the irritating grain of sand in the oyster that creates the pearl; it's the itch that gets the book written, or the picture painted, or the deal closed.

The world needs souls to be restless sometimes!

"Paradoxically though it may seem, it it none the less true that life imitates art far more than art imitates life"
~~ Oscar Wilde


The Jacaranda tree and the tall building in Circular Quay, Sydney, Australia
(The Yin and the Yang!)

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Blessings of Small Things


Why are we so hungry for bad news? Why do we spend so much time contemplating one moment of horror and so little time thinking about what is right with the world?

Fear is entangled in our DNA. The tribe with high levels of anxiety, perpetually scanning the horizon for signs of trouble, was more likely to survive. Many thousands of generations later, we stare at a car crash with a mixture of pity and empathy, together with an urge to avoid the same fate.

When Alfred Hitchcock was asked, ''How long can you show a couple kissing on a bed?'', his answer was: ''As long as you like, providing there's a bomb ticking under it.'' In other words, fear is an easy emotion to arouse and then maintain.

Fear may be useful, but it can also produce self-fulfilling prophesies. Fear of crime, however unjustified, makes people avoid walking the streets at night, creating neighbourhood streets that really are less safe. Fear of an economic downturn means we stop spending, which then causes the very economic downturn we feared.

When people say ''count your blessings'', or invite you to hum along to ''accentuate the positive'', it can sound inane - a turning away from the world and its problems. Yet sometimes those problems grow larger because of thinking that is too negative, too fear-filled, too pessimistic.

Here's my point: there's nothing soft-minded about ''counting your blessings''.
Contemplating the good in the world is part of giving yourself an accurate grip on reality. This, in turn, is the only way to make good decisions and live a contented, successful life.

We shouldn't be shy about demanding a mix of news that is both good and bad. We also shouldn't fall for the idea that grim news is somehow more rigorous, or truthful, or serious, than news that captures the world in all its richness. (The same, incidentally, is true in the world of literature and film where ''the grimmer the better'' has become one of the more fatuous calling cards of our age).

So, let's say it out loud. We live a third longer than 50 years ago. Famine is much less common. In the fight against malaria, the humans are winning.

It's far, far better to be gay than was once the case. Sydney's air pollution is much lower than it was a generation ago. We decided to stop building our homes from asbestos sheeting.

And let's also give thanks to the Blessings of Small Things:
Most stains come out in the wash.
Snow falls on mountains, which are perfectly shaped for skiing.
The best-tasting drink in the world - water - is also the cheapest.
Deciduous trees grow leaves, and make shade, at just the right time of year.
Socks are designed to fit either the left foot or the right.
A beer tastes best after hard work.

And the more in love with someone you are, the better looking they become.

Actually, you know, it's a wonderful world.

“This is the only advice I offer you. Pick the small thing, and carry it on. Let it change your life.”
~~ Anna White

My friend Marja gave me this petite flower box for Christmas, isn't it lovely with the Christmas Bush.
 

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Continuing the Tradition - My 2015 One Little Word is.......CONNECTING


Every year since 2009 I have picked a WORD for the New Year—as a sort of beacon to guide me through the coming 12 months. This word will help me focus on what I am looking to be, do, feel and stand for in the next 12 months.

For me, 2015 will be a year about CONNECTING.

Connecting more deeply with myself, my inner truth, my authentic self, others, community, love, passion, my own heart and soul.

Connecting even more with the feeling that not only is being good enough, it’s the only person I can be anyhow. Feeling like I need to be more like others just leaves me feeling like I'm not being who I NEED to be to fulfil my purpose.

Connecting with that deep part of me that can help me let go of some of those unrealistic expectations and external standards that don’t equal success for me.

I feel excited to see where my journey with this Word "Connecting" takes me.

How about you my fellow bloggers.  Do you have a Word for 2015?

My One Little Word from previous years were:
2009 - BALANCE
2010 - SEEK
2011 - SHARING
2012 - PERSEVERANCE
2013 - SURRENDER

2014 - DETERMINATION

“Giving connects two people, the giver and the receiver, and this connection gives birth to a new sense of belonging.”
~~ Deepak Chopra

Newtown, Sydney, Australia 29 October 2014.
I am holding up my "Free Hugs" sign under this wonderful quote.


Sunday, 8 June 2014

A Call To Action

"It's never too late to be what you might have been" -George Eliot


Here is a call to action. It has always been a reminder for me to keep on target and not lose sight of the big picture. I haven't always known where my target is or quite what the big picture encompasses. Often knowing what it isn't is enough. I clearly remember, many years ago, saying to my ex husband with strong emotion, 'I don't want to do work in an office anymore being an accountant.'

'What do you want to do?' was his obvious reply.
'Something creative.'
'Like what?'
'I don't know.'
The shrug of his shoulders and bemused look, said it all.

The key to my future was that it needed to be something creative. I needed challenges - exciting challenges which would allow my creativity to bloom. I didn't realise the depth of my need at the time. When everything in my life completely changed five years later I embraced an entirely new career which has expanded and changed and creatively challenged me ever since. This blog is part of the rich tapestry of that challenge.

'It's never too late to be what you might have been' means for me, always being creative, and having variety with tasks. When familiarity and the world of the blasé strike, back I go into, 'How can I do this differently?'

The way I work my life is to have big goals and a big picture. How I will achieve my goals, I'm not quite certain - the secretaries of the sky can help me there. I do know, for me, the more I am in touch with the creative woman within, the happier I am.

Give it a go. Do some of those courses you have been putting off for years. Take up that hobby with enthusiasm. Look at your career and think clearly if it has all the elements in it to give you happiness. Some annoying elements you can live with. Being a square peg in a round hole, you must not tolerate!

What about the fear of giving away security? What about that? I know it is frightening. I have been there too. What I want for you is satisfaction and pleasure each day.

There is nothing more satisfying than knowing you are making a difference in the lives of others and knowing, as well, a feeling of confidence and self esteem.

There will be a way for you to have those feelings. Decide that's what you desire more than anything. Now, what are you prepared to do to make it happen?

Know that the very best for you will always come your way, if only you allow it to.

Follow your dreams.

In November 2006 I followed my dream and travelled to Rwanda to teach some orphans photography.  I would like to take up the challenge again and travel to another part of the world and see if I can make a small difference.

Friday, 25 April 2014

The Digital Age

Let's consider the pro's and con's of the digital age.
  • We Socialise In A New Way - we don’t learn how to read facial expressions or navigate “real world” social situations.
  • It's Becoming Harder To Concentrate - Heavy multitaskers are much more easily distracted.
  • The Types Of Friends We Make Is Changing - We're becoming more tribal and less exposed to people with interests or beliefs different from our own.
  • There’s An Awe-Inspiring Online World To Discover - Our fondness for the search field may lead to real-life adventures later on.
  • Privacy May Soon Be A Thing Of The Past - We might be forced to change our names one day in order to escape our cyber past.
  • We Could Stay Sharper, For LongerSearching and browsing on the internet exercises the brain in a way that is similar to solving a crossword puzzle.
  • We Procrastinate MoreAt the flip of your wrist, there’s YouTube, chat rooms, jokes, humour – whatever’s your poison, it’s all out there.  
  • Video Games Are Teaching Us New Skills The skills required for video games are being harnessed to useful ends in education, health and even geo-politics.
  • Technology Is Starting To Correct The Damage It CausesRSI will soon be a thing of the past. Instead, everything we presently see on computers, games consoles, tablets or smartphones will be projected in front of our eyes and we will use hand gestures and voice commands instead of keyboards, mouse clicks or iPhone “swipes”. 
  • We’re Becoming Less Empathetic This is down to the superficial way we consume information.
  • Our Memory Is Deteriorating - As it is now so easy to find information via Google we are getting worse at remembering any facts at all. 
  • We're Becoming “Cyberchondriacs” - GPs now estimate a day a week is spent dealing with patients who have diagnosed themselves online.  
So do the pro's outweigh the con's?

It will probably be years before we start to really understand the impact of some of these drawbacks and potential issues.

"I'm certainly not opposed to digital technology, whose graces I daily enjoy and rely on in so many ways. But I worry about our virtual blinders."
~~ Diane Ackerman


The Twelve Apostles - Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia - April 2014