Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Reflecting On Our Words - June

I interrupt my time away from blogging for our monthly group post.

I have a very deep affection for these four delightful women - Annemarie, Roban, Coach, and Julie even though we have never met in person. Likewise I have the same feelings for many others who live inside my computer. What a wonderful age we live in!

Ben Lee wrote this song playing at the moment and the words are perfect for this post.
"Woke up this morning, I suddenly realised
We’re all in this together
I started smiling
Cause you were smiling
And we’re all in this together......"

Here are our reflections for June.

Annemarie's word is DISCIPLINE

“Discipline is remembering what you want.” David Campbell

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.”
Jim Rohn

“Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability.” Roy L Smith

“Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it is to the one who endures that the final victory comes.” Buddha

My daughter epitomizes the definitions of discipline described above. She has working since September towards the goal of attending the Showcase National Dance Competition. By setting an achievable and measurable goal, she was able to see that dream come to fruition this past weekend.

Caitlin spent several hours a week attending ballet, tap, jazz and technique classes without complaint. Additionally, her instructors would call weekend rehearsals.

What was the result of all this work?

Two amazing performances and two platinum awards. Which just goes to show that when you have the necessary discipline, you can achieve just about anything.

Roban words are JOY and FAITH

JOY. Amazing how such a small, simple word can make such a huge impact in your life (when you let it!). Acknowledging the joy in my life has been one of my goals this year. By focusing on the word “joy,” I hoped to leave worrisome thoughts behind as I looked for those proverbial silver linings instead.

For me, finding joy is really about slowing down to enjoy the moments that make up my life. It’s about stopping the thoughts that whirl through my mind long enough to truly enJOY what life has to offer.

As I focused on this word, I began to recognize joy all around me. I saw joy in a baby’s smile at the grocery store, in the words of a student, and in my daughter’s unique way of seeing things. I found joy in a rare March snowfall and in the serenade of cicadas and frogs on a warm summer night. I found joy while cooking meals for my family and when treating myself to a few good books.

I have found that joy is not elusive but awaits me every day if I just look in the right place. Joy, I found, is a simple thing to enJOY.

AVT Coach's word is ABUNDANCE

I have been blessed to be attending a Yoga class three days per week. Through this class I have also met some amazing women. One of the women, a new friend has added so much to my life in only a few months. We enjoy a nice cup of chai on Sat. morning after our yoga class.

The first weekend in June we went on an overnight trip to a retreat center about 40 miles from our town. We stayed in an old farmhouse. Here is the abundance of this 24 hour time away. A glass of wine on the front porch, talking, watching the sun go down, watching the three new young alpaca's recently adopted by our retreat center owners, sharing again a viewing of the movie Chocalat while of course eating dark chocolate and sharing another glass of wine and talking. Feeling the morning breeze flow through the windows upon awakening in the morning, and taking turns getting a massage by a massage therapist who came to our farmhouse with table in hand..and talking. Enjoy an organic salad then taking a nap just because we can..and talking. It was a gift we gave ourselves and the shared experience was truly abundant. It is not easy to take the time to break away from old habits and do something new. We did it and we are only blessed beyond measure. Thank you Cris for our girl time away."

Abundance is.. sharing new experiences with a trusted friend.

Julie's word is EXCELLENCE

As we hit the completion of half of the year, I find myself amazed that July is right around the corner. Four blog friends and I started the year by each choosing a word that would be our guiding beacon for 2009 and at the end of each month, we have each posted something about how that word is shaping our year.

My word for the year has been excellence. When I selected this word, I thought it to be the element would wind its way through many of the areas in my life in which I seek to grow and improve, in my relationships, homemaking, schooling, writing, photography and walk with the Lord. To pursue excellence has become a lesson in degrees. How does one know when they have achieved 'excellence'? It's not really a destination or accomplishment, but rather an approach and attitude toward the duties and desires in life. And one thing that has emerged as I have pursued excellence this year is that it can be practiced in the smallest things. In my world right now, with so much of my time joyfully captured by the needs of small children, big goals could be frustrating. But to know that I can exercise excellence in making a bed, wiping a nose and reading a book to a child allows me to honor my New Year's goals without creating frustration and overwhelm, which is a very excellent thing indeed.

My word is Balance

6 months, 26 weeks, 181 days, 4,344 hours......four Americans and one Australian united together believing by focusing and reflecting on our tools called words our journey would become clearer.

For me, without a doubt the journey so far has been very rewarding. Who would have thought that by focusing on a few simple words (Balance, Desire, Persistence) they would grant me so much power and freedom.

This month I would like to reflect on finding balance in the midst of life’s ups and downs.

In life there will always be ups and downs. When something negative happens, instead of agonizing over it or trying to oppose it, we should accept it and try to turn it into a positive. Similarly, when positive things happen in our life we need to be prepared for the fact that good things can’t last forever.

Instead of wishing for a life of complete happiness where nothing bad ever happens, these ups and downs should be embraced, because they are what gives life its colour and meaning.

In Taoism it is believed that the entire universe is a balance of opposites, symbolized by yin and yang (day and night, winter and summer, male and female, life and death, etc).

“The Tao is the One. From the One come yin and yang; From these two, creative energy (chi); From energy, ten thousand things; The forms of all creation. All life embodies yin AND embraces yang; Through their union Achieving harmony”.
Tao Te Ching (Dreher translation)

Join us in reflecting on your word. Words are the stuff of thought, invisible and intimate.

Please accept this flower from Joseph - Dee Why, May 2009.

Monday, 22 June 2009

I've Got To Go Now

I will be taking a short break from blogging (about 3 weeks)......just finished watching "Dead Poets Society" (again) and feel the need to "Carpe Diem" (Seize the Day)!!

YOU my blogging friends are so addictive! You bring such joy, laughter and wisdom into my life....I am going to miss you so very much....I know this because I dream about you and your blogs regularly.

My priorities are totally out of wack. I have been remiss in catching up with friends and also have the DESIRE to concentrate on my photography, reading, walking, rearranging the spare room and updating our family ancestry of which I am now in charge.

Meanwhile I will leave you with some songs/videos of an exceptional singer/songwriter - TONI CHILDS.

I've Got to Go Now

One Life
TONI CHILDS One Life - Sunrise Channel 7

Stop Your Fussin

Take care everyone.

"Life can only be understood backwards but must be lived forwards."
--- Soren Kierkegaard

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Mixed Messages

Our emotional wellbeing depends to a great extent on how fairly and kindly other people treat us. (How we treat others affects their wellbeing just as directly.) But where does that leave us when we are unsure about what to expect of others or whether our demands are halfway reasonable?

A friend of mind related this story to me the other day. She feels overstretched and unappreciated......

Arriving home from work after a lengthy detour to the supermarket, she asks her eldest child for help bringing in the shopping from the car. He's 14 and is busy sending a text. He asks her to hang on a minute. AND SHE LOSES IT - explodes with frustration, disappointment and anger - not because of that delay, but because for her it typifies so many moments when she wants help and doesn't get it, or when her needs are obliterated by the people she loves most.

But what happens next? Son looks up from his text and is outraged that the harridan in front of him is shouting - about what? About him not "jumping to"? Is that what she's on about? Now it's his turn to be self-righteous. Does she see him as a lackey to jump to her every command and salute while doing so? He, too, feels devalued - and hopping mad.

It would be entirely possible to write a comedy series about domestic moments just like this - yet the living of them is rarely funny. Messages get mixed and family communication collapses. The truly important is not expressed and the unimportant becomes Wagnerian.

Misunderstandings may be inevitable, especially in families. Nevertheless, when they happen often or are badly handled, their effects will be serious and may be catastrophic. In this situation, for example, what happens when Dad or one of the other children comes home and each hurt person wants their sense of injury to be validated? "Taking sides" may make one person feel better, but it solves nothing.

In fortunate families, a sense of proportion will soon reassert itself. One person will apologise and explain their difficult day; the other person will acknowledge their overreaction. A quick hug, and life continues. But even then, it is worth taking time to consider consciously and honestly what we are expecting of other people and how reasonable or realistic these expectations really are.

After all, despite our desires for the contrary, no one can read our thoughts - including our unexpressed wishes and desires. So often our hurt or outrage is about what people have failed to do when they had no idea that was what we wanted.

My friend did ask for help, but her son could not have known - particularly in the midst of his own urgent texting - why her request was urgent and, more generally, how starved she was feeling of consideration and support.

Equally, when the son said to wait a minute, that was literally when he meant, but she heard, "Your needs can wait", and in the noise of her explosion he was hearing, "Only my agenda matters".

It is not easy to assess how realistic our expectations or responses are, but two things help me.

First, I take a mental step backwards to look at the situation coolly from the other person's point of view. If I find that difficult, it is even more worthwhile persisting - and checking out my findings.

Second, I look just as closely at what I have not expressed clearly - and what could not therefore have influenced the other person's response. I may be reluctant to be explicit, yet it is always preferable to acting out my disappointments - and living with the consequences!

This is the response I get from my cat Wilson when I go on the rampage and act like a total lunatic - he just sticks out his tongue and give me 'the look'!
April 2009

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Mindless Eating

Have you ever lost a piece of toast?

It's a mystery that has often befallen me. I'm chomping happily on my Vegemite delight and reach out for the next piece only to find an empty space where luscious crunchiness should be. I take my eyes off the computer screen/TV/road ahead for a moment to look and there's nothing there. Gutted. Robbed. Outraged....I WANT MY TOOOAST MUMMY!

Then comes the moment of horrible realisation: the toast isn't there because I've already eaten it. Stuffed it in, chomped it up and swallowed, without really registering the process.

This, my friends, is what they call "mindless eating", and if I want to lose weight - and keep it off - it is something I absolutely have to train myself NOT to do.

It's the guiding inspiration behind that classic piece of dieting advice: never eat standing up. Add to that: never eat while reading the paper, watching TV, driving, downloading music you haven't heard since 1989 or writing a blog.

Or, to put it simply, when you eat - eat. Don't treat it as a subsidiary activity that can be bolted onto any other. Respect it and give it your full attention. Otherwise you will eat a lot of food without really noticing you are doing it - and you will get fat without even having enjoyed the benefit of the yummy food, which is robbing yourself twice.

And if you like food - it seems such a waste not to savour it.

I'm always struck by this thought when I watch Joseph's labrador, Morris, have his dinner. Like all of his breed, Morris lives for food. All right, food and sticks, but mainly food. Every crumb of edible matter that is touched by human hand in that house is followed by Morris's agonised gaze.

Don't forget me! I like food! Look, I'm wagging my tail! Please? Just one little bit? I'll be good forever!

It breaks your heart.

Then comes the big moment: dinner time.

Down goes the bowl, down goes Morris's head and, within milliseconds, it's gone. He doesn't so much as inhale. Then he's back on patrol in the kitchen in case someone drops an apple pip.

"Morris, my boy," I want to say to him, "take time to enjoy your food - look at it, smell it, savour each mouthful, make it last." But it's no good: he's got to eat it as quickly as possible in case another dog steals it.

Which is exactly why I used to eat like a labrador. If I didn't clear my plate quickly as a child, my big brother would help me out. So I learned to stuff my dinner in fast, like Morris, and the habit stuck into adulthood.

Until now. I have actively retrained myself and here's the secret: put your knife and fork down after every mouthful. Take time to taste what you're eating, chew slowly, and don't pick your cultery up again until you're swallowed.

Now I have learned it is a much more enjoyable experience to sit back in my chair while I eat, look around the room, take in the scene. Breathe out occasionally.

Eating this way, I also become aware of getting full as I go and hope to never again find myself transformed into a human Zeppelin.
(That's the feeling, five minutes after leaving the table, that you have been forcibly inflated to bursting point.)

We were on safari in Kenya in December 2006 and came across these lions devouring an animal. We were quite close....it was an amazing experience.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Determined to See Things Differently

The world we see that seems so insane may be the result of a belief system that isn't working. The belief system holds that the fearful past will extend into a fearful future, making the past and the future one.

It is our memory of fear and pain that makes us feel so vulnerable. It is this feeling of vulnerability that makes us want to control and predict the future at all costs.

I would like to present a personal example. I was reared in a family where a fearful attitude always seemed to prevail. I bought into a philosophy that said, "The past is awful, the moment is horrendous, and the next moment is going to be worse". And, of course, we were all correct in our predictions since we shared the same assumptions.

Our old belief system assumes that anger occurs because we have been attacked. It also assumes that counterattack is justified in return, and that we are responsible for "protecting" ourselves, but are not responsible for the need to do so.

If we are willing, it is possible to change our belief system. However, to do so we must take a new look at every one of our cherished assumptions and values from the past. This means letting go of any investment in holding on to fear, anger, guilt or pain.

It means letting the past slip away and with it all the fears from the past that we keep extending into the present and future.

"I am determined to see things differently" means that we are truly willing to get rid of the past and future in order to experience now as it really is.

Most of my life I have acted as if I were a robot, responding to what other people said or did. NOW I recognise that my responses are determined only by the decisions I make. I claim my freedom by exercising the power of my decision to see people and events with LOVE instead of fear.

“Fear less, Hope more; Eat less, Chew more; Whine less, Breathe more; Talk less, Say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours” - Swedish Proverb

This photo taken at the Australian Reptile Park, Somersby, Sydney in March 2007 was my "A" photo....see my previous post for details.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Bonds Boy

Inspiration seems to be the buzz word for June.

AVT Coach is talking about it....here are some questions she is posing:

"Can we decide to "inspire another" or do we "inspire another" by living a quality life of positive abundance and that in itself is enough? Does inspiration come spontaneously in a different form for each individual or are there qualities that are globally inspiring? What or who inspires you"?

Then there is Annemarie's brother Andre who created a photo blog called A to Z Photos , hoping to inspire photographers and get us clicking away again.

Andre wrote "As a professional writer and photographer sometimes I find that when I'm away from work I've exhausted my creativity. I've found it hard to keep myself inspired and motivated to shoot photos for myself".

Andre wants to encourage all photographers--pros and hobbyists--particularly all those who have had a little trouble staying motivated to shoot more personal photos, to take part in A to Z Photo Blog.

These photos below of my beautiful "Monday" little man Joseph are my "B Photos". As it was way too cold and wet to venture outside I decided to scan my photo files and found it was such an enjoyable experience searching for photos relating to the letter B.

I hope Andre's blog attracts lots of participants because we could all do with a little inspiration and that's what the blogging community is REALLY good at.

We Support, We Teach, We Inspire AND we have heaps of fun along the way.

Bonds Boy Joseph, Dee Why, Sydney, May 2009

Bonds Boy Joseph, The Mall, Sydney, May, 2009

Bonds Boy Joseph, Cromer, Sydney, May 2009

Bonds Boy Joseph, Narraweena, Sydney, June 2008

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Different School of Thought

You have heard the saying "Ignorance is Bliss", well maybe there is merit in this school of thought.

Here are some prime examples:

I would be much happier not knowing that the saying, "Don't let the bed bugs bite" originates from the fact that there are thousands of dust mites living in my bed, eating my dead skin cells. If I were ignorant to this fact, I would be happier, and as such in a state of bliss.

Once a conjuring trick is explained it loses its magic.

The excitement of a game of football is in not knowing who is going to be the winner.

I think that there are some things out there, we know nothing about. That lack of knowledge allows us to sleep soundly at night.

Ignorant people don't have to worry and try to fix things themselves, instead they think that someone else is fixing the problem, or there is no problem.

Also if we do choose to solve the problem, it is the exciting part, NOT knowing the answer!

The government preaches ignorance, advertises it everywhere, and bombards us with propaganda, so that when we are happy in our ignorance, they can go about controlling the world without us worrying about what they are doing.

Maybe Ignorance, after all, is Bliss!

Healingstones, a very wise and thought provoking blogger wrote this comment below which presents both sides of the argument VERY sustinctly.

"I agree that ignorance is bliss but there is something that goes alongside it: knowledge is power. Even though I hate politics intensely there is an argument for keeping clued up on what is going on in the world. Ignorance wasn't bliss with the recent sub-prime fiasco. (But then how on earth were we supposed to know when even some of the big financial institutions didn't twig!?)
On another level, ignorance can sometimes mean life - I have heard of people who have lived with cancer only to be 'diagnosed' and go swiftly down hill".

Chris (Joseph's father) and myself at Luna Park, Sydney, May 2009 having a ride on the Wild Mouse. It was much more blissful closing my eyes in certain sections of the ride.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Reflecting On Our Words - May

Annemarie, AVT Coach, Julie, Roban and I began our "reflecting on our words for the year" road trip in January and continued in February and March and April.

We got our inspiration about focusing on a WORD for the year from Caroline at The Zen in You. Wonder on over to her place and she will enlighten you further about this wonderful WORD project.

AVT Coach suggested for our joint post this month we:

"Make a collage. You take a canvas and you put photos, words, symbols, whatever you want on it. I've been wanting to make one for my office. It could be small. Anyway, then we would take a picture of it and post it one month".

Brilliant idea we all thought!

Annemarie's word is DISCIPLINE

Roban words are JOY and FAITH

AVT Coach's word is ABUNDANCE

"May is a month full of life. Graduations, Weddings, Concerts, Recitals, and Championships. Bike races, Running races, and Horse races. It is a month in Oklahoma for rain storms and twisters. You have to keep your sneakers on to catch up with the action.
May is also "Better Speech and Hearing Month". I'd like to think of it as "Better Encouraging and Listening Month". My blog posts have been absent but my life has been full. I am truly creating abundance one step at a time. Blessing to you as we move into June. What will the next month bring?" AVTCOACH

Julie's word is EXCELLENCE

My word is BALANCE and I have added two new words for the year (DESIRE and PERSISTENCE)...focusing on Balance alone was not enough to get me motivated!!!

Jesse over at Living Infinitely was the inspiration for my adding the words Desire and Persistence to focus on for the rest of the year.

This is what I wrote as a comment on his post:

Jesse you have written this post very clearly and concisely. I get it! And I need to remember it.
When my goal becomes too difficult it is easy to stop caring, stop trusting and stop wanting it.
I must learn to cultivate an attitude (build a stronger fire) to stay in touch with my desires and remember persistence will pay off and achieve the outcome.