Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Cheers Everyone!

I was cleaning up the papers mounting up on my desk and found this little ditty that I had read somewhere and thought it might come in handy one day......and today is the day!

I think it is a fitting final post for 2008.

"This is a little story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.

There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.

Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.

Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody's job.

Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it.

It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done".

(Source: Anon, traditional)

The Moral? Communication is often more complicated than it first seems!

Looking forward to "visiting" you all over and over again in 2009. Stay safe everybody as this somebody really cares and hopes nobody misses out on the happiest and healthiest year ever. I hope I haven't missed anybody!

My cats Wilson and Ellie patiently waiting for SOMEBODY to open the door!

Sunday, 28 December 2008

How We Perceive Ourselves

Each time we look in a mirror, we choose the lens through which we view ourselves. We choose which aspects of ourselves - of our bodies and of our beings - we focus our attention on. Sometimes we take in our whole figure, or more often, we see ourselves as a collection of individual parts, some of which we classify as "good" and others as "bad." We compare ourselves to our peers and to an ideal image we hold in our mind. We wonder if others see us the same way we see ourselves, if they make the same classifications and hold the same judgments.

A young child looks at the world through fresh eyes, seeing, taking it all in, but not judging. As we grow and learn about our world, we develop our own associations. We absorb the notions of beauty held by the culture in which we are raised and we internalise the remarks of parents, friends, and even strangers. All of these elements colour our view of ourselves.

Others view us through the filter of their own experiences. They bring their own associations to bear on what they see, but they also pick up the images each of us projects outward. Those little mental snapshots we take when we look at ourselves in the mirror become part of our energy field and part of our self-definition. Interestingly, we can change others' view of us simply by shifting the images we hold of ourselves.

The next time you look in the mirror, challenge yourself to see yourself anew. Be like a young child and, for a moment, suspend your judgments. Release the very human need to classify and label. Instead, see yourself with an open heart. Ask the universe to send you a higher, truer vision of yourself, then get quiet. If you're lucky, you may just catch a glimpse of the eternal you, the you that is perfect exactly as you are.

Darling Joseph from 1 day old till 2 years.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Marianne Williamson

Marianne Williamson is someone that I greatly admire. She writes with such clarity, I find her work very visual, can easily understand the concept, very powerful and insightful.

Her latest book The Age of Miracles: Embracing the New Midlife was published in January 2008. Below is a review of the book:

"Midlife is not a crisis; it is a time of rebirth. It is not a time to accept your death. It is time to accept your life and to finally, truly live it, as only you and you alone know deep in your heart it was meant to be lived. This book is a passionate call to embrace the power and inspiration that opens up to us in the middle of our lives. In every community, there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart, there is the power to do it".

I love the way Marianne sees mid life as the opportunity for a second (and sometimes a third) puberty... finally reaching the point in our lives where our personalities have matured enough to know how to handle the opportunities and challenges that we are faced with every day. Retirement is less about stopping work and more to do with finding and doing what is really our passion. At 40 or 50 we have (God willing) another 40 or 50 years to discover that passion and live it, knowing that all the experiences in previous careers and relationships with others have brought us to the point where we now, hopefully, know what to do with it all.

For me, my life only gets better as I age. The early years were actually rougher for me than getting older. But, for those of you struggling with mid-life, this book will give you a very positive perspective on the whole thing and may be just the ticket if you're feeling down.

I also found some quotes written by Marianne that I would like to share.

• Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.

• The secret of success is to realize that the crisis on our planet is much larger than just deciding what to do with your own life, and if the system under which we live the structure of western civilization begins to collapse because of our selfishness and greed, then it will make no difference whether you have $1 million dollars when the crash comes or just $1.00. The only work that will ultimately bring any good to any of us is the work of contributing to the healing of the world.

• The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world.

• Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here.

• When an idea reaches critical mass there is no stopping the shift its presence will induce.

• Maturity includes the recognition that no one is going to see anything in us that we don't see in ourselves. Stop waiting for a producer. Produce yourself.

• We can always choose to perceive things differently. You can focus on what's wrong in your life, or you can focus on what's right.

• Personal transformation can and does have global effects. As we go, so goes the world, for the world is us. The revolution that will save the world is ultimately a personal one.

• What happened to my generation is that we never grew up. The problem isn't that we're lost or apathetic, narcissistic or materialistic. The problem is we're terrified.
Wow ain't that the truth!!! She certainly doesn't let us off lightly!!!

I took this photo last week when I travelled to Wagstaffe, about one and half hours north of Sydney. How cute are these creatures!

Monday, 22 December 2008

Hope, Ethics and Character

When the last old year slipped into the new, even the most keen-eyed soothsayer could hardly have predicted that 2008 would bring such tumult.

As this year comes to an end and I reflect on the events that shaped it, I have been struck by the fact that so many people's lives are now affected by fear. Some are losing or have lost jobs, superannuation or businesses. Some are losing their homes.

An African friend wrote to say how fortunate the phrase "downsizing" is when contracted with the reality that increasing numbers where she lives have nothing to downsize from or to. That sharp reality doesn't always make our own fate easier to face, yet it is significant because this has been a year of quite momentous and surprising gains.

We now can't help but see the underbelly of ruthlessly speculative investing. Getting rich by such trading never did have the same social value as making real things or offering needed services. When money and ethics are divorced, we all suffer.

How wonderful it will be if, even five years from now, we can look back on 2008 as the year in which ethics returned to centre stage, determining the big decisions and benefiting people's lives in relation to the issues that matter most.

Certainly, there are signs this is what people want. In Australia we began wonderfully with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's public apology to indigenous people. More remains to be done, and the needs of the environment are no less urgent just because money worries have eclipsed them. But the call to more ethical living does not end there.

On a global scale, the year's most significant public event has been the election of Barack Obama, a man who doesn't belong to any traditional ruling elite and who was surely elected not because he is African-American but because he is exceptionally ethical as well as exceptionally intelligent. That he is also African-American, however, makes his victory so much sweeter.

Hope can only flourish in an ethical environment. The hopes that drove Obama and gave him victory were those expressed by one of my greatest heroes, Martin Luther King jnr: that his "children" might one day be judged not by the colour of their skin but on the strength of their character. Hope, ethics and character create a formidable trinity.

For me, it has also been a year of hope and inspiration. Some of that has come from books I have read or music I have listened to, as well as from invaluable personal encounters.

The novel I most enjoyed was the thought-provoking "Tuesdays with Morrie", "a beautifully written book of great clarity and wisdom that lovingly captures the simplicity beyond life's complexities".

The outstanding concert was Philip Glass's musical interpretation of Leonard Cohen's poems , Book of Longing, and my favourite movie was The Black Balloon, a story about fitting in, discovering love and accepting your family.

Read, see or listen if you can.

Jessen (whom I travelled with to Rwanda in Nov 2006) and Amiee at the photo exhibition we organised to exhibit the children's photos.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Managing Our Ups and Downs

Moods are strange things. Driven as much by thought as emotion, and by biology as well as psychology, they can easily feel bigger than we are. They come. They seem to lift our spirits or lower them. And usually they go again as a different mood takes their place.

Some lucky people are genuinely stable in their moods. If pushed too far, they may be ratty, sharp or anxious, but generally speaking they can rely on feeling pretty positive about life, and - as significantly - the people around them can also rely on them being pleasant and easy to be around.

That kind of optimistic stability is a gift to be treasured because there are also many people whose default moods are considerably less sunny. They are not people who are clinically depressed, necessarily, but they live with an inner flatness and absence of pleasure, or a low-grade constant irritability, that significantly colours how they see the world and everyone around them.

Many people come to view this kind of existence as normal and, in a way, they are right. It is normal for them, and the energy it takes to think about change can feel far out of reach. Yet change is needed, in part because a low mood can slip lower, but also because the person living this bleak existence is never doing so alone.

Moods are highly contagious. We step into a room and pick up at once if someone is feeling down. They don't need to talk. Moods "leak" into the atmosphere and, for better or worse, affect everyone around.

Over the past few weeks, several of my friends have spoken to me about the helplessness they feel living or working with someone who is chronically low. One woman described her colleague as "low-grade depressed, like a battery that is not quite flat but not really turning over either". What make the situation worse, in her view, is that he seems incapable of taking action, either because he has become so used to how he is or because whatever he's tried in the past has had little effect.

When it is a beloved partner, parent or child who is struck in the world of grey, those feelings of helplessness can be harder to bear - and more contagious still. Yet people in this situation often find themselves facing some kind of taboo on tough and truthful talking.

We don't want to add to the sufferer's pain, so we bury our own. It becomes easy to lose touch with our own reality and needs, even when that adds to the sum of suffering and doesn't reduce it.

In his book Listening to Prozac, Peter Kramer comments on how some people with chronic low or flat mood came to feel their most fundamental sense of "self" had been restored when medication and therapy worked effectively. What struck Kramer was that while his patients had in most cases not previously known a lively and optimistic adult self, something within them eagerly claimed it.

Medication and therapy are not for everyone but, intelligently used, they can make a powerful difference; I know they did for me, after the break up of my marriage.

What can also make a difference is to choose to engage far more intensely and energetically than usual with other people, ideas, events, nature and the myriad physical aspects of life that can both stimulate and heal us - even and especially when it's not instantly rewarding or is the last thing you feel like doing.

Putting choice and action ahead of feelings is critical here. It may be true that we can't choose our moods, but we can certainly choose how we will live them out and how we will respond to other people's.

Life is tough at times but it is also precious, every minute of it! Losing sight of that is tragic. It is precisely when throwing ourselves more completely into life seems counter-intuitive or plain impossible that it is most urgently needed - restoring and renewing sufferers and supporter alike.

Joseph - September 2008 - In a pensive mood

Joseph - September 2008 - Happy Mood

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Reflecting on the Good Times

Back in November I wrote a post called 'A Sacred Bond' about friendship, which was brought about by meeting up with a high school friend I hadn't seen since 2002.

Our afternoon was spent recalling times gone by and filling each other in on what had happened in our lives over the last 6 years. Our conversation was punctuated with statements such as 'remember when we did....', 'whatever happened to.....' and of course the one we all liked to hear.....'you know you haven't changed one bit, except for your hair colour.'

We both laughed and smiled as we recalled the good times and the great experiences we had shared over the 30 odd years we had known each other. Each event we discussed triggered another recollection and everything we talked about centred on the good times and only served to energise each of us during the course of the afternoon.

Almost simultaneously, right at the end of our time together, we both said how much we both enjoyed it and that we must do it again. We agreed to catch up again early in the New Year, then said our goodbyes.

Over the past few weeks I have revisited and replayed in my mind all that we had talked about. I realised just how important it is to have regular reminders of the good times in our lives and to be able to take the time to reminisce, for so much of what we have done in our lives, shapes us and makes us who we are today and beyond.

I was fortunate enough to have had the chance to catch up with my girlfriend and reflect on those good times. It was somewhat like looking at an old photo album that you have found stored away in a cupboard in your house, there before your eyes are lots of wonderful memories in print that take you back to that time and place, and most importantly to those people who are in the photos.

It also made me realise when you get caught up doing what has to be done in the moment, how easy it is to forget the people you have met in your life who have made a positive impact on and enriched you, often in only the smallest of ways.

My good mate Rod and I back in January 2006 - A delightful pose for the camera!

The special little boy in my life - Joseph & I, August 2008 - Asking for chocolate!

The crew I was with while barging in France, June 2008 (minus Linton who took the photo) - Why do I always have my mouth open!!

Rwanda November 2006 - The Children watching footage of themselves in my video camera.

Saturday, 13 December 2008


I hope this beautiful video, Namaste, a word derived from Sanskrit, which is part of the Philosophy I have been studying for the past two years, touches you as it did me.

A special thanks to Caroline over at The Zen In You, for putting this word in her 'Leave your comments' box. It is a beautiful greeting. Taken literally, it means "I bow to you".

I was very pleased to read in an article about Hugh Jackman, the quintessential man from Oz, that for the past 20 years, wherever he has been in the world, he has attended a class every week at the School of Practical Philosophy.

The School of Practical Philosophy is a worldwide movement devoted to the study of religious and philosophical ideas drawn from sources as varied as Christianity and Hinduism, ancient Greece and Shakespeare, and how those ideas, those "natural laws governing humanity", can be applied to everyday life.

The School grew out of London's School of Economic Science, founded in 1937 in the wake of the Depression. Meditation is central to its practice.

Photo taken in Kenya, December 2006 where we spent 2 glorious weeks on safari after our journey to Rwanda - Namaste

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Blip or Blimp

I have reached a critical point with my weight-loss program which, you'll note, I'm not calling a diet. Nasty word "diet", with negative connotations of cranky regimens, meal-replacement drinks and unbearable privation.

The plan I'm on is much more sensible, but there are still major hurdles in any flab-reducing endeavour and they are, I'm realising, entirely psychological. It's not about the stupid diet or whatever you want to call it - it's about your head.

The wall I hit was this: last week I put 1 kg (2 lbs) back on. After six weeks of steady losing this was a big disappointment, especially as it was brought on by my own hand. The hand and its adjoining arm, which repeatedly lifted glasses of sparkling wine to my lips at a Christmas lunch party I helped organise.

I was fine with the food. We had carefully planned the menu so it looked like lavish tucker, but there was actually plenty for me to eat without busting my resolve. Even one of the strawberry meringue puddings with a little whipped cream was fine as part of my program, but the numerous random swigs of sparkling plonk were not.

The problem was that I kept pouring myself a glass and then losing it as new guests arrived, or I had to rush off to wash up some cutlery, or cut more bread. Then I'd grab another one and have a few gulps of that before being distracted again. This meant it was absolutely impossible to keep track of how many glasses of wine I was getting down me.

There was also the issue that I don't usually help organise large lunch parties (actually, this was the first....)and I wanted to kick back and enjoy it without counting alcohol units too assiduously. I don't drink much these days either, so felt I had a little coming to me in that regard. But I sure paid the price when I got on the scales a week later.

And what reaction could there possibly be to such a crushing blow? Toast and peanut butter, of course, and after four slices of my favourite treat I felt as if it was all over. It was no surprise, then, that several cold pancakes left over from a friend's stay over then found their way into my mouth lavishly anointed with sugar and lemon juice, mmmmmmmm.....Hot chocolate, anyone? I'm making it.

Then I felt as any full-on addict must when they've fallen off the wagon: like a despicable rotten failure who needed both to seek comfort from another hit of their particular vice and simultaneously to punish themselves by giving in to having it, with full knowledge of the enduring consequences.

That's the whole complex cycle of addiction, I realised, slurping down the hot choc, when the very thing that harms you is also the thing that comforts you when you are angry with yourself for giving in to it. Not that I'm suggesting I'm an addict - big respect for people really battling with those issues - but it did give me some insight into that vicious psychological spin cycle and why it is so very hard to beat.

And using that understanding, I was able to pull myself up, I went and admired my beloved jeans which I'm so happy to be wearing again - and not as an endurance event. I don't want them filed back in the maybe-one-day section of the jeans pile: in fact, I want them to be too big!

So I have resumed my weight-loss program as though I never had this blip. I might not lose anything this week either, but I'm not giving up.

Better a blip than a blimp!

Sculpture by the Sea - November 2008 - What sparkling wine can lead to!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

That's Just The Way I Am!

This very thought-provoking article below was written by Michael Josephson.
I know several people fitting the description and believed it was futile to expect these people to change. Now I am rethinking that point of view.

That's Just The Way I Am!
When we hear this, someone is usually telling us, 'Get off my back' or 'Accept me as I am.'

Often it's a response to criticism. It could be about chronic lateness, thoughtlessness, broken promises, physical or verbal abuse, or infidelity. Whatever it is, we're asked to let it go.

In the end, this is a ploy to get us to lower our expectations based on the dubious idea that certain bad habits are an intrinsic part of character and therefore beyond our control. We're expected to believe it's foolish and futile to expect a person to change.

There are, of course, lots of things that are beyond our control: short stature, big bones, receding hairline. Fortunately, character is different. That's completely within our control. The poor and the rich, the slow and the smart, the plain and the pretty all have an equal opportunity to become people of character.

Sure, character can be influenced by heredity and environment, but it's determined by choice. No disposition, circumstance, or experience is so powerful that it forever fixes our character. That is never finished. It's constantly shaped and sculpted by the choices we make to nurture or ignore our more noble instincts and to surrender to or overcome negative impulses and corrupting temptations.

When it comes to what we demand of ourselves or others, we should never lower our standards. Character is a function of choice. Weaknesses and bad habits are not excuses not to get better.


"Ability is what you're capable of doing.
Motivation determines what you do.
Attitude determines how well you do it".
- Raymond Chandler

"Give yourself an even greater challenge than the one you are trying to master.
And you will develop the powers necessary to overcome the original difficulty".
- William J. Bennett

"Success is liking yourself,
Liking what you do,
And liking how you do it".
- Maya Angelou

I took these photos and the header photo last week when we travelled down to Stanwell Park, about an hours drive south of Sydney, to an art exhibition. We also went on this beautiful bush walk along the coast.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Jeans, Trees and The Simpsons

I wonder if anyone else remembers this very early episode of The Simpsons ? Lisa is trying to introduce Bart to the great philosophical questions of the universe, eternity and the big "how?"

As you can imagine, she's not getting very far. First she tries posing the ancient Chinese question: What is the sound of one hand clapping? "Piece of cake", says Bart, holding one yellow hand in the air and smacking his three fingers onto his palm (it works, have a go......).

Lisa tries again: "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it - does it make a noise?"Bingo! Bart's eyes become wide, unfocused saucers of wonder as he attempts to figure it out and his brain starts to feel all psychedelic and bendy with the strain. Well, I have been remembering Bart in that moment because recently I had one similar.

I was out for my morning walk when I encountered a large party of teenage kids out on a school field trip. We were crossing the road from opposite sides and as they streamed past me, I noticed that every single one of them - male and female - was wearing a pair of jeans. There were about 40 of them.

"That's interesting." I mused casually. In high-fashion terms, jeans are supposed to be over, but they really have become the default with the young now, just as they did with my generation in the '70's.

Then I remembered I was also wearing jeans myself that day, and that really got me thinking, because if every Western teenager and even old birds like me have them, then how many pairs of jeans are there in the world?

And then my pesky brain pursued the idea, like a foolish dog following a ball onto the road and into the path of an oncoming car, pondering, "So how many pairs of all kinds of jeans are there? "And that's when the weirdness hit. Aaaaah! Stop the thoughts! My head feel funny! But still the thoughts continued.....

Every member of my immediate blood family, from my three-year-old great-niece up to my octogenarian mum, owns at least one pair of jeans, and most have several. I quite dread to think how many pairs my trendy older nieces own each.

So apart from the odd nun, at a very conservative estimate, just about every citizen in Australia, the UK and America must have one pair of jeans. Priests wear them. Doctors wear them, on duty. Add in Japan, Russia, Europe and China's burgeoning youth culture and the numbers start to spin out into the kind you need to be Stephen Hawking to understand.

As the concept of the world jeans reserve hit me that morning, it could send you mad, I realised, so I forced myself to stop.
I wondered instead, for the rest of my walk, about that falling tree and that empty forest......

Rwanda, Nov 2006 - Even in Africa the blue jean saga continues.

Friday, 5 December 2008

An Interview with God

I was googling something or other and found this interesting piece. You may or may not have read it before, but I thought it was worth sharing.

I dreamed I had an interview with God.

'So you would like to interview me?' God asked.

'If you have the time.' I said.

God smiled. 'My time is eternity. 'What questions do you have in mind for me?'

'What surprises you most about humankind?'

God answered.....

'That they get bored with childhood, they rush to grow up, and then long to be children again.'
'That they lose their health to make money.....and then lose their money to restore their health.'
'That by thinking anxiously about the future, they forget the present, such that they live in neither the present nor the future.'
'That they live as if they will never die, and die as if they had never lived.'

God’s hand took mine and we were silent for a while.

And then I asked....'As a parent, what are some of life’s lessons you want your children to learn?'

'To learn they cannot make anyone love them. All they can do is let themselves be loved.'
'To learn that it is not good to compare themselves to others.'
'To learn to forgive by practicing forgiveness.'
'To learn that it only takes a few seconds to open profound wounds in those they love, and it can take many years to heal them.'
'To learn that a rich person is not one who has the most, but is one who needs the least.'
'To learn that there are persons who love them dearly, but simply have not yet learned how to express or show their feelings.'
'To learn that two people can look at the same thing and see it differently.'
'To learn that it is not enough that they forgive one another, but they must also forgive themselves.'

'Thank you for your time,' I said humbly.

'Is there anything else you would like your children to know?'

GOD smiled and said, 'Just know that I am here.....always.'

Inspirational Quote by an Unknown Author:
Happiness is a healthy mental attitude, a graceful spirit, a clear conscious, a heart full of love and friends.

One of my favourite photos of Joseph taken in December 2007 aged 16 months.
What an amazing blessing Joseph is, a true gift from God.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Woman's Work Is Never Done - A Dialogue

Blind Freddie knows that work associated with women is traditionally undervalued!

Housework and raising children are expected to be their own reward and, indeed sometimes they are.

Occupations and professions associated with women - nursing, teaching, social work - are not the big earners. Women are dressmakers; men are tailors. The name of the television show The Cook And The Chef says it all - she's the cook (the daily grind); he's the chef (the prestigious special event). And if the title doesn't say it, the numbers do: When girls get married, they double their domestic load; when boys get married, they halve theirs!

And if wildlife documentaries can be trusted, even lionesses have their crosses to bear. It's they who bring home the bacon, only to stand back as the big boys have their fill of the choice parts. Leftovers then go to the hungry, growing cubs, before eventually, all tums contentedly full, the ladies can sit down to lunch....of what's left.

If life on Earth relies so heavily on the female, it's probably not surprising we call so abundantly on domesticity to furnish the metaphors of daily life. We have a lot to do, we have many pots on the boil and we may be cooking up a storm.

We prioritise some tasks (put them on the front burner) and downgrade others (they're on the backburner); and eventually, some will come off the boil altogether.

Problems emerge and we have to sort things out, which may involve clearing up, ironing out the creases or smoothing things over. After all, we don't want a ragged seam! We finish a project and draw a line at the bottom of the page before putting the task to bed. The days that follow may see us tying up the loose ends or mopping up.

It's not all cut and dried but we do our best.

Joseph - February 2007 - His mother was multitasking!

Friday, 28 November 2008

To Be Delightful

I think we have a lot to learn from the old girls. I don't mean the quite old girls, like myself, I mean the really old girls - i.e., you're barely in this club aged 80, sister!

I've been thinking about them ever since I met my friend Margaret's new step-girlfriend. That's what she calls her, because she is the new girlfriend of her late mother's boyfriend....Still with me? To explain: Margaret's late mother had a boyfriend, Peter. Sadly, Margaret's mother died a couple of years ago and Peter now has a new babe, the Step-Girlfriend. And as he had become a big part of my friend's family when he was dating their mother, Pete's new octogenarian arm candy has been enthusiastically welcomed, too, although she is no relation by either blood or marriage. But, my goodness, she is fabulous!

It's not just the size-8 figure, the defined waist, or the way she walks as though she were about to break into a quickstep at any moment. It's not even her perfectly kept nails or her beautifully set silver-white hair. No, that's all good but it's not the heart of it.

Of course, her clothes help. She's always immaculate in a cashmere twin-set and pearls for casual day wear, a suit for smart days and a selection of lovely, below-the-knee, waisted dresses for dinner or cocktails. I'm told that it's proper long gowns if there's a chance of a dance at an evening event. She never wears trousers, and always wears heels. But while she's very well turned out, there's more to her appeal than grooming.

The really amazing thing is that the Step-Girlfriend is not the only one I know of this marvellous breed. Two more immediately spring to mind, both mothers of good friends, in their 90's and a delight to behold and spend time with. And that, I think, is the crux of the charm of these golden girls.

They aim, at all times, to be delightful.

They always look interested in what you're saying, even if you rather suspect they can't quite hear you.

I do understand that this could be perceived as a hangover from the 1950's man-pleasing mode, when women were expected to adopt a perfect-wife persona, hiding their real needs and feelings under a wipe-clean, easy-care veneer of feminine charm. That would be terribly depressing, and I really don't think it is what I am seeing in these luminous ladies.

Rather it is a refined form of self-discipline, always to put on a delighted and delightful demeanour, whatever you're really going through inside, as a courtesy to others.

In our age of let-it-all-hang-out, where people exert no self-control when it comes to venting about whatever is getting them down at any given moment - regardless of the effect their mood may have on others - it really is a pleasant change.

And I don't excuse myself from that criticism. I'm a shocker for letting whatever I'm feeling - be it frustration with a slow supermarket queue, or a genuine concern - play across my face like a Reuters screen. Not nice.

So, while I'm all in favour of being real about my feelings in the appropriate context, I think there's a lot to be learned from these shining members of an older generation.

I would very much like to learn how to be delightful!

Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, 2007 - Two very delightful sculptures.

My 86 year old mother - Beryl, myself and my 96 year old Aunt Mary. Two very delightful women.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Let Us Be Thankful

With an open heart I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving.
I envision an evolving world where peace and love prevail.

The information below gives a brief history of Thanksgiving which will be of interest to those like myself not from the USA.

In 1621, after a hard and devastating first year in the New World the Pilgrim's fall harvest was very successful and plentiful. There was corn, fruits, vegetables, along with fish which was packed in salt, and meat that was smoke cured over fires. They found they had enough food to put away for the winter.

The Pilgrims had beaten the odds. They built homes in the wilderness, they raised enough crops to keep them alive during the long coming winter, and they were at peace with their Indian neighbors. Their Governor, William Bradford, proclaimed a day of thanksgiving that was to be shared by all the colonists and the neighboring Native American Indians.

The custom of an annually celebrated Thanksgiving, held after the harvest, continued through the years. During the American Revolution (late 1770's) a day of national thanksgiving was suggested by the Continental Congress.

In 1817 New York State adopted Thanksgiving Day as an annual custom. By the middle of the 19th century many other states also celebrated a Thanksgiving Day. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln appointed a national day of thanksgiving. Since then each president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, usually designating the fourth Thursday of each November as the holiday.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

A Different Perspective

I am a great fan and admirer of Cirque Du Soleil and over the years have been very fortunate to see a number of their absolutely sensational shows.

At each of these shows, I have joined thousands of other people in the circus tent to reflect in total awe on the amazing and seemingly impossible acrobatic feats in each performance. When this is coupled with the larger than life sense of theatre that engulfs everyone, it leaves you inspired and full of appreciation for what you have just seen.

Just recently I had the opportunity to see the same Cirque Du Soleil show for a second time within a space of about a month. At the first show, my friend and I were seated about thirty rows back from the stage, so you could imagine it was not easy to see all the expressions on the faces of the performers or for us to fully appreciate the passionate effort that they put into their individual performances. However, what we were able to enjoy was the wonderful panorama of the overall performance.

At the second show, we were fortunate to be seated in the second row just a couple of metres from the stage and we could now see close up the performers and their expressions. Equally, having seen the show before, we both looked forward to seeing our favourite segments for the second time.

Driving home after the second show, we talked about which of the two shows we enjoyed the most and also whether it was better to sit close to the stage or further back. We agreed that both shows were equal in terms of their spectacle and enjoyment, but from two totally different perspectives. In seeing the show for the second time, our appreciation of the absolute brilliance of Cirque Du Soleil was significantly enhanced and without doubt will always be remembered.

In the days that followed it occurred to me that there are some parallels between the experience we had at the two Cirque Du Soleil shows and what happens in our every day lives when we deal with the many challenges that face us.

How often do we make a decision about something important to us based on one single viewing of the facts or act just on what are our first impressions of the situation, without taking the time to gain a better feel for things. By way of example, when we read a good book or watch a movie for the first time it is so easy to believe that we now have a full understanding of all that we have just read or seen. Then at some later point, if we read the book or watched the movie for a second time we are almost certain to discover lots of other important things that we missed the first time around.

Whilst we often don’t have the opportunity to consider an important challenge or situation for a second time before we make a decision about the course action we will take, we should always endeavour to make time to stand back and view things from afar in order to gain a perspective of the bigger picture, and then be able to revisit the challenge or situation close up to see the finer detail and further improve our understanding.

In the light of the different perspective that a second viewing can provide to us, we would then be in a better position to make a more balanced and considered decision about the action we should take. I am sure if we all strived to do this, the outcome may very well be as enjoyable and uplifting as my second visit to Cirque Du Soleil.

Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, November 2008 - These two photos are an example of a different perspective of the same sculpture, one from afar and one up close.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

A Sacred Bond

“Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I to my friends.” These words of Virginia Woolf are a pointing reminder of the importance of friendship in our lives.

I spent the afternoon with my 'best friend' from my high school days. We hadn't seen each other since 2002, but it seemed like only yesterday.
There were no awkward moments, just laughter and filling in the gaps of those years, with the sad events and the happy ones.

When we think of our friends we immediately think of those people who have been constantly present in our lives, those who have been a stellar support to us in happy times and times of crisis. Perhaps it is not always easy to define friendship. It isn’t built on a list of expectations as is the case with other relationships. But then perhaps it is this freedom, this unspoken tenderness, this amalgamation of faith, trust, support and other beautiful aspects that make it such a sacred bond.

Any person who has ever enjoyed a wonderful bond of friendship will understand the importance of being there for the friend. Life is a continuous learning experience and along the way every person encounters happy moments and trying times. What one needs during the happy times as well as the painful ones is constant support and a true friend knows this only too well. Sometimes it is not always possible to be there for your friend in person but modern technology has allowed people to connect in spite of geographical distances.

Perhaps it is only in friendship that people are capable of giving unconditional acceptance and love to another individual and this is the hallmark of true friendship. It means friends allow each other to be human and commit mistakes and learn from the mistakes. It also means that friends love each other in spite of the mistakes. This acceptance and love also means that friends talk to each other if they have any issues between them and that they treat each other with respect, dignity and kindness. They also give each other the benefit of doubt and try to understand the other person’s perspective.

True friendship also means that our friends encourage us to reach and perform according to our potential and do not transgress our boundaries. In a healthy friendship bond you should never be forced by any of your friends to do anything that you are not comfortable doing. There is genuine concern for the emotional, physical and spiritual well being of each other in this beautiful relationship.

Some of my favourite Friendship quotes.

“Friendship is the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words."
- George Elliot

"Friendship with oneself is all-important because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world."
- Eleanor Roosevelt

"Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of joy you must have somebody to divide it with."
- Mark Twain

"With every friend I love who has been taken into the brown bosom of the earth a part of me has been buried there; but their contribution to my being of happiness, strength and understanding remains to sustain me in an altered world."
- Helen Keller

"What is a friend? A single soul in two bodies."
- Aristotle

"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."
- Martin Luther King Jr.

Carole King, Celine Dion, Gloria Estefan & Shania Twain - You've Got A Friend

Monday, 17 November 2008

Who Are You?

Caroline over at The Zen in You has been writing some very insightful posts (she is a fellow Sagittarian so I expect nothing less...) and the one on 'Confronting Fears' reminded me of a story that was read to us in Philosophy a couple of months ago.

In a remote mountain village the head of the village died and leadership was passed on to his son.

Now the people had lived many years under the control of a huge monster who loomed like a shadow over the village.

Whenever anyone tried to find freedom this large shadow appeared with a loud voice echoing through the mountain. The villagers always retreated at the sight of the dark image.

The young man who was now the leader realised the time had come to confront this monster. He went out with a group of villagers and as soon as they appeared at the edge of the village the huge shadow appeared. They stepped back in fright.

The young man observed how the shadow became bigger and the voice louder as they retreated. He paused and then bravely took a step towards the shadow. It seemed to become slightly smaller. He stepped again and his view was confirmed, the shadow became less and the voice less powerful.

He continued moving towards it until at his feet was the source of the shadow. He plucked up this small ephemeral object in his had and asked

"Who are you?"

Fear was the weak feeble reply.

He closed his hand and it disappeared entirely.

The moral of the story was to 'Observe Fear and let it pass through you'.

Manly, Sydney, June 2008 - BEFORE

Manly, Sydney, June 2008 - AFTER

Saturday, 15 November 2008

A Meaningful Apology

Sorry is a powerful word. Whether used individually or collectively, it carries an emotional force that, in the best of circumstances, is life-changing.

Yet when it comes to healing serious hurt or conflict, I am increasingly sure that saying sorry is rarely enough.

An apology has its greatest power when someone unreservedly acknowledges the harm they have done to other people. Admitting "I caused this" is difficult. It can take many people a long time and much backsliding to get that point. Making excuses, looking for "both sides to the story", feeling miserable or resentful that you have been caught out, or self-pitying because your dignity and reputation are now sullied are all quite different responses from recognising and unconditionally regretting the damaging effects of your choices and actions on other people's lives.

A meaningful apology leaves excuses behind. It must arise from a willingness to take complete responsibility for your actions, but even that is not enough. It must also be based on a resolve not to cause such pain again. Fear of losing other people's love and respect, rationalisations, panic: all of that is essentially self-focused. It's about "you", not "them" and is even a faint hope that you might get away with it next time.

I have heard several painful stories where people talked about much-loved family members who are fluent in the language of apology but seemingly unable to make any real change to their behaviour. While each story is different, that awful sense of "Here we go again" is much the same.

I can add my own situation to these stories where by my ex-husband was very controlling and emotionally and verbally abusive. He degraded me to the lowest emotional point of my life. He knew just what buttons to press to hurt me by throwing everything from my past back into my face. And when he realised he had pushed me to the point of leaving, it was always the same "Lets give it another go, I am sorry, I will change".........I finally left in March 2000 after 15 years but that is another story for another day.

Conventional psychological thinking pushes people to find reasons why they or their loved ones are behaving badly: terrible parents, parents who were too kind; too much money or too little; poor self-image or excessive ego. Almost any scenario will do.

Some factors are significant. We don't enter or move through life with equal gifts or insights. But "reasons why" can also be perilously distracting. The primary cause of behaviour that hurts other people is rarely in the past. The past matters, but less than the way someone thinks about themselves and other people right now, in the present moment.

Are they willing to recognise their power to care about other people whether or not they "feel like it"?

My husband and the other people all see themselves as the primary victims of their own behaviour. The suffering they are causing others is less urgent for them than their own emotional needs and desires. Until they reverse that, and make their daily choices with far more active regard for other people, whatever sorrow they may feel for the pain they are causing will remain muted and ineffective.

Waking up to our power to harm - or uplift - others is crucial to emotional maturity.
It is the way out of self-centredness and, while challenging, is the only way to make saying sorry meaningful.

What it adds up to is taking unconditional responsibility for the effect of all our choices and actions on other people.

Stanwell Park, Sydney, July 2007: "The Path We Walk"

Friday, 14 November 2008

Reality Check.....The Mighty Have Fallen

THE markets have gone up, the markets have gone down; they have yo-yoed their way through winter and spring. At the end of this hysterical few months, surely we can spare a little sympathy for those who are doing it toughest - the merchant bankers and the money-market wizards.

This week, they have emerged from their city towers, blinking into the sunlight, into a world they hardly recognise. Vainly they wait for their chauffeur to pick them up from the footpath. There is no chauffeur. There is no chauffeur? But how does one possibly get around?

A bus. Someone needs to tell them about the bus. Large rectangular object. On wheels. Has driver. Doesn't come for ages, then three come at once.

A bus, you say? Oh yes. Buy a 10-ticket thingy at newsagency, three colours available, buy the cheap one. If caught with blue ticket on red route, feign a grand mal seizure. Or just make a run for it. Now the main method of exercise for man on street.

I imagine him, the one-time master of the universe, standing lonely on a city corner, cardboard box under the arm. In the box a framed photo of his yacht (sold), Porsche (returned) and three daughters (in grief counselling - the cancellation of their David Jones accounts was quite a blow).

It's the first morning of the rest of his life and he's eager to ask his welfare officer for more details of this new world and how it works.

Yes, the bus, thank you for explaining the bus. But what of other cities? What if I need to travel by air?

Air travel? Right you are. No problem. There are seats down the back. You'll have noticed that little curtain. Bit of a surprise. There's a whole other cabin back there. Trick is to turn right rather than left when entering plane. Soon get the hang of it.

And, yet, sooner or later, the body blow has to come. He's going to need to know about the existence of taxation.

Taxation, you say? Oh, yes, most people pay it every year. It's like a tithe to the government, which they use to provide roads, schools and bank bail-outs.

The colour drains from his face. Every single year? You pay your own money to the government every single year? You are joking, right?

Actually, weekly. Deducted from pay. Hard to get out of, if one is on normal wicket. Best be cheerful about it.

Sculpture by the Sea - Nov 2004 - If the bus becomes too expensive there is always the bicycle!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Lest We Forget - 11:11

Today being the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month is a very special day for me for many reasons.

First and foremost it is Remembrance Day - To remember the fallen and those still fighting wars. This video below called 'Lest We Forget' was created by shohmyoh and the music 'The Green Fields Of France' by Dropkick Murphys. I personally would like to say thank you, veterans and soldiers, for the freedoms we enjoy today. You will never be forgotten.

Secondly, some of you already know about my quirky experience with Eleven Eleven (11:11). I started seeing 11:11 on digital clocks in the 1980's. It made me smile when I saw it but it wasn't until 1995 when I mentioned it to a close friend and discovered she had been seeing the same thing that we thought it must have a meaning. Without further ado (love that saying) we googled it and here is what we learned.
"11:11 is a wake-up call for lightworkers. Lightworkers are people who signed up for a "green beret" type of mission when they were on the spirit plane (before being incarnated on Earth). What the mission is, in short, is to hold as much Light as possible, as strongly as possible, on this planet".

Postscript - I saw 11:11 this morning on my computer clock and my blog archive has 11 postings for September and October and I promise you I didn't cheat and create 11 posts knowingly!

Finally I would like to add a poem by Marianne Williamson called 'Our Deepest Fear'.
I found this description on the web that accurately describes my feelings about the poem.

"Marianne Williamson's poem, Our Deepest Fear, has been inspiring people for decades with its deeply resonating message about our fear of greatness, of standing out from the pack".

"If you've ever felt that paralysing fear of stepping forward and presenting yourself to public scrutity, you may find your first impulse is to label it a fear of failure. But in Our Deepest Fear, Marianne Williamson addresses the other side of that feeling, the fear of being better than your peers, perhaps even daring to be the best".

"It's a powerful message".

Our Deepest Fear
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness,that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?
Actually who are we not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn't serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people
won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And when we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

- Marianne Williamson

Note About Nelson Mandela
This quote is often found on the Internet incorrectly credited to Nelson Mandela from his Inauguration Speech, 1994, especially the last sentence of that quote, “As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

For reference, here are links to two official African government sites with Nelson Mandela's 1994 Inauguration Speech:

Mandela: Inauguration Address - Cape Town, 09 May 1994, via South Africa Government Online Official Web site.

Statement Of The President Of The African National Congress Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela At His Inauguration As President Of The Democratic Republic Of South Africa Union Buildings - Pretoria, 10 May 1994, via ANC's (African National Congress) Official Web site.

This Sculpture by the Sea 2008 exhibitor Steinunn Thorarinsdottir from Iceland named this 'Look and See'.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Complex Dance - Belonging and Inclusion

In philosophy last week we discussed whether we were an 'includer' by nature - or not?

This is something that we can easily fail to develop in ourselves and may not value or develop in children. Yet the capacity and willingness to think about others and include them makes a profound difference for people of all ages. It could be a child at pre-school who is willing to share, an adult at a party who keeps an eye out for anyone standing on their own, a colleague who will take the time to show a newcomer around a workplace, or someone happy to draw others out and help them feel affirmed and welcome.

In so many situations a moment of generosity and thoughtfulness can make all the difference between someone feeling like an outsider, with all the agonies that can produce, and feeling included.

The image of a child standing alone in a crowded playground, without the protection of company and friends, certainly haunts me.

Feeling included is vital for our emotional health and wellbeing and it will affect dramatically how we think about other people as well as ourselves. It will also affect whether we see the world as essentially friendly or hostile. Because most of us underestimate our own personal power and overestimate other people's, we are likely to spend far more time worrying about being left out rather than whether and how we are including others.

Yet this is always a complex dance. We have chances to be included; we have at least as many chances to offer that vital sense of inclusion to others.

Behaving in ways that are welcoming and inclusive lifts our own spirits - at any age. In fact, being actively inclusive and friendly does wonders for most people's personal and social confidence. Nevertheless, there will always be some people who remain fearful that reaching out to others will make them seem needy or vulnerable.

It's tempting to believe that other people have an easier time feeling part of things than we do. Yet being real about our own insecurities should help us see how common they are and what we could do about them. In fact, honesty about our own social vulnerability creates a good basis for empathy and can give us the courage to be proactive rather than daunted.

Acknowledging your power to bring other people in rather than leave them out already makes a difference.

I am amazed at how many people complain about feeling left out or overlooked while never considering how they might save others from similar experiences. Including others is a win-win situation: great for them, great for ourselves.

Some people are naturally attuned to others, always keeping an eye out for those on the margins or those feeling new or unsure in any social situation. They are society's treasures and we can all learn from them. I feel very privileged to know many people like this and grateful they are part of my life.

An easy sense of belonging is essential to feeling safe, inwardly and outwardly. Whatever our age or status, we are free to appreciate that sense of belonging and to offer it freely to others.

It is an exceptionally uplifting way to move through the world!

Yet another 'Sculpture by the Sea' Exhibit - Nov 2003

Nov 2008, 'Sculpture by the Sea' - We are all very different and at the same time very similar!

Friday, 7 November 2008

Can He Fix It

Thousands in a Chicago park. Utterly enraptured by the moment and the man. Shiny cheeked with joy.

"Two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century."

That's what he inherits. The worst of times. Cometh the man.

"This victory alone is not the change we seek, it is only the chance to make that change."

It's just five years since Barack Obama came from next to nothing to the US Senate. A black man, now president, a life and a half from slavery. This changes not only American politics but something subliminal and effective at the heart of us all.

"The enduring power of our ideals ... unyielding hope."

Which is something we can share.

"That American creed ... yes we can."


Now if Barack needs any help he can always call upon 'Bob the Builder' because WE ALL KNOW BOB CAN FIX IT!!!

Another Sculpture by the Sea exhibit at Bondi, November 2008 alluding what the world hopes Barack Obama can achieve.

I call this Sculpture by the Sea exhibit, November 2007 - United Together

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

A Pleasant Surprise

Much to my surprise (and I mean it) I received this award last week from a wonderful, thoughtful, humorous, talented (I could go on and on and on) blogger AVT Coach. I told her what a happy blogger I was before she so kindly bestowed upon me the scribbler award, and how my head won't fit through the door now!!! Seriously though, I feel very honoured to have received this award....thanks Coach!

Here are the rules of the game.

1. Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.
2. Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.
3. Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.
4. Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit This Post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!
5. Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

Now as you may or may not know, my philosophy is 'rules are made to be broken', so I am handing out the Superior Scribbler Award to THREE very deserving bloggers. If you enjoy poetry and photography, do yourself a favour and visit these very talented bloggers, YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED!!!

1. Jen - JenX67 - One of my favourites I called 'poetry in motion' is 'Fall Foliage in Oklahoma City'

2. Ron - Troubled Ramblings. This poem especially touched my heart - 'Couldn't Sleep'

3. Roban - Moments in Time
Last but certainly not least is a very beautiful poem called 'Life' meaningful.

Another photo taken at Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi 2007, reminds me of how we reach out to each other and support one another unconditionally.

Monday, 3 November 2008

You Tell Me

Lately I have been reading some beautiful poetry that different bloggers have written and it reminded me of a book I bought back in 1979 called 'You Tell Me' written by Roger McGough and Michael Rosen.

This book of humorous poems has stayed close by my side all these years. I often share the poems with my friends when they come over and a small group of us can even recite some of them off by heart.......what joy this book have given us.

Here are 4 of my favourites:

I'm a nooligan
don't give a toss
in our class
I'm the boss
(well, one of them)

I'm a nooligan
got a nard 'ead
step out of line
and you're dead
(well bleedin)

I'm a nooligan
I spray my name
all over town
footballs me game
(well, watchin)

I'm a nooligan
violence is fun
gonna be a nassassin
or a nired gun
(well, a soldier)

Every evening after tea
grandad would take his bucket for a walk.

An empty bucket

When I asked him why
he said because it was easier to carry
than a full one

granddad had
an answer
for everything

is stand in the hot sun
at the end of a long queue for ice creams
watching all the people who've just brought theirs
coming away from the queue
giving their ice creams their very first lick.

I was sitting in the sitting room
toying with some toys
when from a door marked: 'GRUESOME'
There came a GRUESOME noise.

Cautiously I opened it
and there to my surprise
a litte GRUE lay sitting
with tears in its eyes.

'Oh little GRUE please tell me
what is it ails thee so?'
'Well I'm so small,' he sobbed,
'GRUESSES don't want to know'

'Exercises are the answer,
Each morning you must DO SOME'
He thanked me, smiled,
and do you know what?
The very next day he......

I took this photo at 'Sculpture by the Sea' last week, it evokes what a 'Nooligan' or a 'Gruesome' might look like!

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Birth Order of Children

This delightful piece came via an email. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did. Love to hear Octamom's views on this one.

A New Life
1st baby: You begin wearing maternity clothes as soon as your Obstetrician/Gynecologist confirms your pregnancy.
2nd baby: You wear your regular clothes for as long as possible.
3rd baby: Your maternity clothes ARE your regular clothes.

Preparing for the Birth:
1st baby: You practice your breathing religiously.
2nd baby: You don't bother because you remember that last time, breathing didn't do a thing.
3rd baby : You ask for an epidural in your eighth month.

The Layette:
1st baby: You pre-wash newborn's clothes, colour-coordinate them, and fold them neatly in the baby's little bureau.
2nd baby: You check to make sure that the clothes are clean and discard only the ones with the darkest stains.
3rd baby: Boys can wear pink, can't they?

1st baby: At the first sign of distress, a whimper, a frown, you pick up the baby.
2nd baby: You pick the baby up when her wails threaten to wake your first born.
3rd baby: You teach your three-year-old how to rewind the mechanical swing.

1st baby: If the pacifier falls on the floor, you put it away until you can go home and wash and boil it.
2nd baby: When the pacifier falls on the floor, you squirt it off with some juice from the baby's bottle.
3rd baby: You wipe it off on your shirt and pop it back in.

1st baby: You change your baby's diapers every hour, whether they need it or not.
2nd baby: You change their diaper every two to three hours, if needed.
3rd baby: You try to change their diaper before others start to
complainabout the smell or you see it sagging to their knees.

1st baby: You take your infant to Baby Gymnastics, Baby Swing, Baby Zoo, Baby Movies and Baby Story Hour.
2nd baby: You take your infant to Baby Gymnastics.
3rd baby: You take your infant to the supermarket and the dry cleaners.

Going Out:
1st baby: The first time you leave your baby with a sitter, you call home five times.
2nd baby: Just before you walk out the door, you remember to leave a number where you can be reached.
3rd baby: You leave instructions for the sitter to call only if she sees blood.

At Home:
1st baby: You spend a good bit of every day just gazing at the baby.
2nd baby: You spend a bit of everyday watching to be sure your older child isn't squeezing, poking, or hitting the baby.
3rd baby: You spend a little bit of every day hiding from the children.

Swallowing Coins (a favourite):
1st child: When first child swallows a coin, you rush the child to the hospital and demand x-rays.
2nd child: When second child swallows a coin, you carefully watch for the coin to pass.
3rd child: When third child swallows a coin you deduct it from his allowance!

GRANDCHILDREN: God's reward for allowing your children to live!

Another photo taken whilst barging in Eastern France, June 2008. I was so pleased I had my camera at the ready as this is the only shot I got of this beautiful swan family.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Communication Breakdown!! Woe Is Me!!

Alas my metal companion is ailing. Caliginosity has fallen upon this Sydney blogger.

I awoke this morning, fed the cats, turned on the TV and turned on my other favourite machine to hear a very strange noise. Beep, beep, beep, beep.....what ails you my friend I asked?

By the third try of turning it on and off, panic started to set heart was pounding. What have I done to deserve this (the song kept running through my mind).

OK reality check Peggy, let's settle down and find a solution.

I called my computer guy who thought there might be some dust in the RAM and wanted me to take off the cover and clean it. I can do that I said, and hung up. You know that housework I haven't been attending to, well looks like the dust crept into the computer as it had filled up all the other places.

Unfortunately cleaning the RAM did not fix the problem, so I will be having a forced break from blogging - an addict's worse nightmare!

So if you don't hear from me for a short while be happy in the knowledge I will have a clean house, be catching up on my reading and missing you all a great deal.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Dead Silence: When Part Of Our Language Dies.

SOS. We all know what it signifies. Trouble. Big Trouble.
At the literal level, when we try to unpack the acronym, we get Save Our Souls or Sick Of School or Same Old Song or Sounds Of Silence. Believe me, a shortage of "S" words, there isn't, as I posted just recently.

Generally, though, SOS is one of those acronyms, such as Qantas, that operates as a single unit, so no one feels the need to unpack the initials. Convenience like this usually wins in the end.

In the saving process, the one who saves is always considered worthy. Capsizing boats. Nosediving planes. But also beached whales, endangered species, heritage homes and coral reefs.

Now a new contender asking to be saved has arrived. ITS WORDS!! OLD WORDS...VERY OLD WORDS...Words on the point of oblivion. I have just finished reading an article that Collins Dictionary has launched a Save The Last Word Project for 24 near-extinct words that need public support if they're to hold onto their place on the page.

For a word, axing is the final stage of a long road called dying. First it gets marked as archaic which indicates hospice status. Then teams of lexicographers, like palliative care professionals, convene and consider. They look for evidence of the word's use and, now that we live in an electronic world, that's almost as easy to do as to say. While no one dresses in black or gets out the hymn books, the axing decision is not made lightly!

To pre-empt the death knell, Collins has enlisted the power of celebrity to help save words on the endangered list. Some well-knowns from the media, TV and politics are each adopting an endangered word.

Some examples:
Skirr: the sound made by a bird's wings in flight
Fubsy: short and stout; squat
Niddering: cowardly
Caliginosity: dimness; darkness
Fatidical: prophetic
Periapt: a charm or amulet

During the monitoring period (now until February next year)adopters are to champion their word by introducing it into as many public language opportunitis as they can.

On the Day of Reckoning, the decision to axe or not to axe will be made by Collins on the basis of how well the word has moved beyond its nominal champion's lexicon to a wider natural usage across a range of users and media.

It gives new meaning to "die hard"!!!

This is one of many photos I took at 'Sculpture by the Sea' yesterday.....I thought it was very appropriate to be included in this post.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Not of our Choosing

I have been thinking a good deal about choice lately, how important it is to recognise what choices we are making with regard to our ethics and our behaviour because, as those choices accumulate, they shape the person we become.

But there are other ways in which the notion of choice is much less clear-cut. Politicians and others talk a great deal, for example, about choice in education and medical care, as though choice were an equal-access opportunity. Questions of choice become more complicated still in situations that are not dependent on wealth or health but on quirks of fate or luck.

Losing a job you like because the company collapses; not having the marriage or career you expected; not having the child you've longed for since you were a child yourself; buying a house in the wrong suburb at the wrong time; having a major crisis of faith; losing a beloved person far too early; experiencing betrayal: the list can be endless - and endlessly unfair!

There is no worst here. When is come to suffering, comparisons are totally useless. Each serious loss, disappointment or sorrow is felt acutely. Knowing that others may have worse sorrows brings little or no comfort.

It is impossible to offer a simple formula for these situations, yet I am confident that talking about what we are feeling is almost always much better than avoiding it. Burying a sorrow in a mountain of work or at the bottom of a glass is tempting, but it gives the wound no chance to heal. It also means there is no chance to gain a little insight and compassion, or to receive the kindness that others can give you.

It takes courage to speak frankly about our toughest griefs. It takes more courage still to accept the comfort of others, especially when that's often clumsy and inadequate. Yet, the truth is we human beings are social creatures, and while talking about our sorrows cannot change them, it re-establishes a crucial sense of connection and almost always brings glimpses of relief.

Some people benefit from confiding in the people closest to them, others from talking to a professional, while many others find that their greatest support comes from listening as well as talking to people in the same situation as themselves.

Soul baring of this kind is not the same as friendly chats. It requires facing raw truths and building some acceptance, at least of what cannot be changed. Sometimes a different idea of 'choice' may emerge and even unexpected sets of possibilities.

But first there needs to be honest grieving for the old reality or lost dreams. Recovery from any kind of serious setback is usually patchy. Patience as well as time is needed. Yet even the toughest of situations can yield up moments of kindness and relief if we let them. It's kindness that can sustain and restore trust: not trust that life will be as we once hoped, but trust that life is nevertheless worth living - and that our own crumpled version of it remains precious and unique.

I write this piece acknowledging that I have been 'to hell and back' and now immensely enjoy the road I am travelling along with an inner peace and appreciation and love for all the people who helped me along the way.

Our Journey Begins

Sometimes Darkness Engulfs Us

There Is Always Light At The End Of The Tunnel

I took these photos while barging in Eastern France in June 2008; three glorious weeks, one of the most relaxing holidays I have ever experienced.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

When God Paints

I was sent this email today, it said the photos had not been enhanced, but even if they have, there is no denying the beauty of nature.

The first photo had this title:
The Day the Paint Box fell from Heaven'. (This is a real place outside Bakersfield , California )

We live in an awesome world.
Make it an awesome day.
Peace To All and May God Bless You
Live simply.
Love generously.
Care deeply.
Speak kindly.
Leave the rest to God.