Saturday, 31 January 2009

Reflecting on our WORDS

Instead of making a New Years Resolution, four of my blogging friends - Annemarie, Coach, Octamom, Roban and myself decided we would each choose one WORD for the year that would empower us throughout 2009.

We wanted to have lots of fun with our WORDs and agreed at the end of each month we will simultaneously post a synopsis about our WORDs on our blogs.

We would love all our readers to join in the fun by commenting or writing their own post about their WORD. It's time to spread the word about how one WORD can "lighten the load" when the going gets tough. Our goal is to create a chain reaction around the blogosphere.

This month we have decided to write a poem/acrostic reflecting on our without further ado here are our acrostics:

Annemarie - McMGrad89 chose DISCIPLINE:

D evelop better habits of daily living.
I nform friends of my plans. They will keep you accountable.
S leep at least 7 hours a week night.
C ook 5 days a week.
I mpossible will no longer be a part of my vocabulary.
P lan weekly meals.
L eave the house on time to relieve stress.
I nactivity will not be tolerated.
N ew sneakers will be purchased immediately!
E xercise at least three days a week.

Coach - AVT Coach chose ABUNDANCE:

A tone for your hurtfulness.
B id farewell to judgment.
U tilize your mind.
N otice your surroundings.
D raw on support from friends.
A cknowledge the gifts of others.
N ullify negativity.
C reate moments of meaning.
E mbrace the little things.

Roban chose FAITH

F reedom to enjoy life’s precious moments.
A cceptance of God’s plans.
I magining the possibilities.
T rusting that my life is in God’s capable and loving hands.
H umbling myself as I relinquish control.

and JOY is....celebrating

J oyful
mO ments
everY day!


E nergetically
e X acting
un C ommon
r E sults
L eaning
who L ly
d E pendant
o N a
pea C eful
r E deemer

Peggy - Miruspeg chose BALANCE:

B elieve in yourself.
A llow the positive energy to flow your way.
L ook, learn, laugh and Love.
A lways allow for a few stumbles along the way.
N ever give up or stop trying.
C limb that mountain, till you reach the top.
E njoy the journey.

Words are merely sounds until they become associated with an object or an action or a feeling. The way sounds come to have meaning is through repetitive exposure to spoken language. So if we keep our WORD close by, it will urge us on and how empowering that will be!

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. Caroline's word is DESERVE......

Kakadu National Park, NT, Australia - May 2007 - Beautiful reflections.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Balancing My Lifestyle

In today’s modern lifestyle, we are challenged to find the middle way/ground.

Sometimes to me it feels like being on a tightrope. If I am on the tightrope, and I am secure in my balance, then everything is fine. It's fun to be up there, and I feel secure and safe. I can relax.

But if I start to lose my balance, it stops being fun. The more out of balance I am, the more I feel that I need to grab onto something, anything, to save myself. I become desperate. And desperate people will do almost anything.

January on the whole was quite a BALANCED month for me. I fell off the tightrope for a couple of days but with the help of friends found my way back. What I find comforting is having the word hovering/floating in my mind, urging me to find the middle ground.

In just that way, when life is in balance it's fun. I am happy and secure. I have all of the things that I need, and I don't have a lot of worries.

When I have balanced my work time and my rest time, I am are not overtired, and apt to be cranky and show poor ability to gauge a situation.

When I have balanced my nutritional needs, my body becomes healthy, and I have more energy and feel better about everything.

When I have balanced my budget, I have enough money to meet my expenses, and aren't worried that my creditors are going to be knocking at the door, or that I will be going hungry.

When I have balanced the time I spend away from my family and the time I spend with them, no one feels neglected (neither myself nor my family) and so no one is demanding, and there is harmony in the home.

We know when we have achieved balance, because things run smoothly, and we can maintain them with joy and equanimity. We don't need someone else to tell us; in fact no one else can tell us, any more than someone else can tell us when we are balanced on our bicycle. Remember learning to ride? Took a while to find our balance, didn't it? But when we had, we knew it. We could feel it.

It's just exactly like that.

I am learning that the balance needs to be found before it can become automatic, and find it by leaning a little in one direction or the other until it's there. When it is, I will know it. And I won't let anyone else tell me I are wrong.

You may need four hours of sleep a night to stay in balance. Some people really do need only four. You may need ten. Some do. Don't let anyone tell you you should need eight. You need the amount you need to feel rested and alert, day after day after day. Get it, and your whole life will improve!

When we find the balance in any portion of our life, and we will find our whole life improving! When we are truly balanced, I think we will find that we have lost all desire to hurt other people.

At the core of everything that philosophy is teaching me, is a commitment to keep learning and then sharing what is learned with others who care to listen.

Sculpture by the Sea - November 2008 - Another example of balancing.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Lilly's Life: And so the Australian journey continues on...

Lilly's Life: And so the Australian journey continues on...

For those of you interested in reading more facts about Australia and hearing an Australian accent, Lilly's Life is the place to visit.

What a wonderful ambassador Lilly is.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Australia - The Movie

I hope Australia is a huge success. I hope it rakes in a billion dollars, wins Baz Luhrmann that Oscar and simultaneously saves both our film and tourism industries. I also hope that, even more miraculously, it can banish those niggling doubts about Nicole Kidman's acting more effectively than she banished those freckles.

But I must confess that when I watched it, I was left with a sense of weariness. Because while I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains and all that, I'm disappointed that once again, the image of ourselves we've chosen to serve up for our biggest movie in years is the same old blockey, ocker stereotype that the likes of Bryan Brown and Jack Thompson (both of whom, naturally, feature in the film) have been peddling for decades.

Hugh Jackman's character, who is known only as the Drover, is evidently from the same old Mick Dundee school of charm, and wins over Nicole Kidman's prissy, repressed Northern Hemisphere lady much as Hoges himself once won over Linda Kozlowski.

Of course, I wouldn't dream of questioning the originality of a narrative that Oprah Winfrey herself claims swept her off her feet. But I couldn't help wondering whether Luhrmann has ever thought of making a film about the real Australia - the one right outside his doorstep.

So for research purposes I took a stroll outside his doorstep, or at least his massive wrought-iron gates. They're located in the grubby but cool Sydney suburb of Darlinghurst, and there's a car park just around the corner where the friendly neighbourhood ice addicts hang out. Around another corner, there's a famous cafe called Rough Edges that cares for homeless people. But the only rough edges in Australia are on Jackman's chiselled, bearded jaw, and the only ice is in Nicole Kidman's personality.

To be fair, Australian urban grunge has been done to death, literally, in films like Candy and Little Fish. But, thankfully junkies are almost as obscure a slice of life in our cities as drovers. I can only think of one successful local film that has any connection with the Australia I grew up in, and that's Looking For Alibrandi, which is set amid the familiar multicultural tensions of our inner-city suburbs. It leaves the charming romantic comedy with an unflinching portrayal of youth suicide, which is regrettably familiar to so many of us.

But if you go looking for another Alibrandi, you won't have much luck, because few of our filmmakers seem interested in depicting ordinary Australian life - and I bet that even Melina Marchetta novel wouldn't have been filmed if the book hadn't been set for the NSW Higher School Certificate, providing a ready market of students who were keen to get out of reading it.

Most major world cities have thriving film industries that portray local stories. New York has been on our screens and London, Paris, Berlin, Tokyo and Hong Kong are extremely familiar to moviegoers. Recently Woody Allen has had a late-career resurgence by abandoning Manhattan to set his stories in some of the great cities of Europe, most recently Vicky Cristina Barcelona. But no one's telling stories about ordinary people in Sydney or Melbourne.

We know our actors and directors are among the best in the world, because we punch so far above our weight in Hollywood. And commendably, our stars have bent over backwards to keep appearing in low-budget flicks. So why is the real Australia so conspicuously absent from our screens?

Perhaps due to the remaining residue of our cultural cringe, we're afraid to show ordinary Australian life without a gimmick. Our comedies have been afflicted by the quirkiness syndrome since the success of Priscilla and Muriel's Wedding.

I can only hope that our filmmakers of Baz Luhrmann's calibre are willing to tackle more familiar, local stories, and that local audiences can forgive all the times they're been scalded by mediocre Aussie films.

Circular Quay, Sydney - Sept 2008

City of Sydney - Sept 2008

Botanical Gardens, Sydney - Sept 2008

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Australia - Prepare Yourself!!

The following gem is by Douglas Adams of "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" fame. It is an amazing insight into Australia – prepare yourself!

Australia is a very confusing place, taking up a large amount of the bottom half of the planet. It is recognisable from orbit because of many unusual features, including what at first looks like an enormous bite taken out of its southern edge; a wall of sheer cliffs which plunge deep into the girting sea. Geologists assure us that this is simply an accident of geomorphology and plate tectonics, but they still call it the "Great Australian Bight" proving that not only are they covering up a more frightening theory but they can't spell either!

The first of the confusing things about Australia is the status of the place. Where other land masses and sovereign lands are classified as either continent, island, or country, Australia is considered all three. Typically, it is unique in this.

The second confusing thing about Australia are the animals. They can be divided into three categories: Poisonous, Odd, and Sheep. It is true that of the 10 most poisonous arachnids on the planet, Australia has 9 of them. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that of the 9 most poisonous arachnids, Australia has all of them. However there are curiously few snakes, possible because the spiders have killed them all.

But even the spiders won't go near the sea. Any visitors should be careful to check inside boots (before putting them on), under toilet seats (before sitting down) and generally everywhere else. A stick is very useful for this task.

At this point, we would like to mention the Platypus - estranged relative of the mammal, which has a duck-bill, otter's tail, webbed feet, lays eggs, detects its aquatic prey in the same way as the electric eel and has venomous barbs attached to its hind legs, thus combining all 'typical' Australian attributes into a single improbable creature.

The last confusing thing about Australia is the inhabitants.

First, a short history:
Sometime around 40,000 years ago, some people arrived in boats from the north. They ate all the available food, and a lot of them died. The ones who survived learned respect for the balance of nature, man's proper place in the scheme of things and spiders. They settled in and spent a lot of the intervening time making up strange stories.

Then, around 200 years ago, Europeans arrived in boats from the north. More accurately, European convicts were sent, with a few deranged and stupid people in charge. They tried to plant their crops in Autumn (failing to take account of the reversal of the seasons when moving from the top half of the planet to the bottom), ate all their food, and a lot of them died.

About then the sheep arrived, and have been treasured ever since. It is interesting to note here that the Europeans always consider themselves vastly superior to any other race they encounter, since they can lie, cheat, steal, and litigate (marks of a civilised culture they say) - whereas all the Aboriginals can do is happily survive being left in the middle of a vast red-hot desert, equipped with a stick.

Eventually, the new lot of people stopped being Europeans on extended holiday and became Australians. The changes are subtle, but deep, caused by the mind-stretching expanses of nothingness and eerie quiet, where a person can sit perfectly still and look deep inside themselves to the core of their essence, their reasons for being, and the necessity of checking inside your boots every morning for fatal surprises. They also picked up the most finely tuned sense of irony in the world, and the Aboriginal gift for making up stories. Be warned.

There is also the matter of the beaches. Australian beaches are simply the nicest and best in the entire world. Although anyone actually venturing into the sea will have to contend with sharks, stinging jellyfish, stonefish (a fish which sits on the bottom of the sea, pretends to be a rock and has venomous barbs sticking out of its back that will kill just from the pain) and surfboarders.

However, watching a beach sunset is worth the risk. As a result of all this hardship, dirt, thirst and wombats, you would expect Australians to be a dour lot. Instead, they are genial, jolly, cheerful and always willing to share a kind word with a stranger.

Faced with insurmountable odds and impossible problems, they smile disarmingly and look for a stick. Major engineering feats have been performed with sheets of corrugated iron, string, and mud. Alone of all the races on earth, they seem to be free from the 'Grass is Greener on the other side of the fence' syndrome, and roundly proclaim that Australia is, in fact, the other side of that fence. They call the land "Oz", "Godzone" (a verbal contraction of "God's Own Country") and "Best bloody place on earth, bar none, strewth." The irritating thing about this is they may be right.

There are some traps for the unsuspecting traveller, though. Do not, under any circumstances, suggest that the beer is imperfect, unless you are comparing it to another kind of Australian beer. Do not wear a Hawaiian shirt. Religion and Politics are fairly safe topics of conversation, (Australians don't care too much about either) but Sport is a minefield.

The only correct answer to "So, howdya' like our country, eh?" is "Best (insert your own regional swear word here) country in the world!". It is very likely that, on arriving, some cheerful Australians will 'adopt' you on your first night, and take you to a pub where Australian Beer is served. Despite the obvious danger, do not refuse. It is a form of initiation rite. You will wake up late the next day with an astonishing hangover, a foul taste in your mouth, and wearing strange clothes.

Your hosts will usually make sure you get home, and waive off any legal difficulties with "It's his first time in Australia, so we took him to the pub", to which the policeman will sagely nod and close his notebook. Be sure to tell the story of these events to every other Australian you encounter, adding new embellishments at every stage and noting how strong the beer was. Thus you will be accepted into this unique culture.

Most Australians are now urban dwellers, having discovered the primary use of electricity, which is air-conditioning and refrigerators.

Typical Australian sayings:-
* "G'Day!"
* "It's better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick!"
* "She'll be right mate."

Tips to Surviving Australia:
* Don't ever put your hand down a hole for any reason WHATSOEVER.
* The beer is stronger than you think, regardless of how strong you think it is.
* Always carry a stick.
* Air-conditioning is imperative.
* Do not attempt to use Australian slang, unless you are a trained linguist and extremely good in a fist fight.
* Wear thick socks.
* Take good maps. Stopping to ask directions only works when there are people nearby.
* If you leave the urban areas, carry several litres of water with you at all times, or you will die.
* Even in the most embellished stories told by Australians, there is always a core of truth that it is unwise to ignore.

Australia Day, our national day, is 26th January. To read some more interesting, humorous stories I recommend you wonder over the my good mate Lilly's Life blog. Lilly is a fellow Aussie AND Sagittarian, she has a wicked sense of humour, so be prepared and settle back with a cup of coffee/tea/juice/water/wine and enjoy the ride.

Cable Beach, Broome, Western Australia - May 2007

Kings Canyon, Northern Territory, Australia - June 2007

Friday, 16 January 2009

There's No Such Place As Far Away

I was looking for my copy of Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach and found another one of his books - There's No Such Place As Far Away.

This little gem, given to me as a gift back in 1980 for my birthday, has so much more meaning now or at least I think it does as I cannot recall my feelings back then.

The story starts out in the heart of a hummingbird to find the truths he's always known....about friendship and love and growing up and living in this lifetime.

His journey of learning can take us wherever we want to go, to whomever we want to be with. And for friendships that don't depend on time and is a lovely communication.

The passage in the book that I found very powerful and touched my heart was when he wrote about gifts:

"You are the only one in the world who can see the ring that I give you today, as I was the only one who could see it when it was mine.
Your ring gives you a new power. Wearing it, you can lift yourself into the wings of all the birds that fly.

As anything that cannot be touched with the hand or seen with the eye, your gift grows more powerful as you use it.

When the day comes that you no longer need the ring, you must give that ring to someone who you know will use it well, and who can learn that the only things that matter are those made of truth and joy, and not tin and glass".

On the back cover these words are written:

"Can miles truly separate you from friends?
If you want to be with someone you love,
Aren't you already there?"

I wonder what other gems are hidden in my bookshelves.

Photo taken in Nov 2006 at Sculpture by the Sea, Sydney and adapted into a scrapblog.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

A Musical Story

My world would be unimaginable without music washing over me, it has played a huge part in my life from as far back as I can is food for my soul!

I am in awe of songwriters. Not only for the beautiful lyrics they write but combined with the melodies, they take me to a wondrous place.

So today I have borrowed the lyrics from VARIOUS SONGS written by Gary Lightbody off Snow Patrol's latest album "A Hundred Million Suns" to write this musical story.

Hold on, hold on, let me get the words out before I burst!

Crack the shutters open wide
I want to see you in the light of day
It's been minutes. It's been days. It's been all I will remember

It's a mess. It's a start. It's a flawed work of art.

Pick a side. Pick a fight. But get your epitaph right!

Or you can sing till you drop,
Cause the fun just never stops.

Tell me you never wanted more than this,
And I will stop talking now.

Your love is life piled tight and high,
Set against the sky, that seems to balance on it's own.

I'm not afraid of anything, even time.
It'll eke away at everything, but we'll be fine.

Just close your eyes,
And count to five,
Let's craft the only thing we know into surprise.

When your eyes meet mine, I lose simple skills,
Like to tell you all I want is now.

What will you remember, what will you think of me,
After I say goodbye.

I know you love me, like the million times I never said.

Hit that button there,
The one that just says wrong.
And we'll lose our minds to all our favourite songs.

What if this storm ends,
And leaves us nothing except a memory.
A distant echo.

Worry not everything is sound.
This is the safest place you're found.

Stop waving your arms you're safe and dry,
Breathe in and drink up the winter sky.

The most beautiful merry-go-round (carousel) I have ever seen - Strasbourg, France - June 2008

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Question of BALANCE

Sculpture by the Sea 2007.....quite a balancing act

Once again Caroline over at The Zen In You has inspired me, this time to create a WORD for the year, instead of a resolution. A word that will empower me through 2009.

I knew the word immediately, need to be empowered by it.... it is BALANCE! Do I ever need balance in my life. I would like to leave my unbalanced life behind in 2008.

I have been studying Philosophy for two years and will begin my third year at the beginning of February. It has been a wonderful journey so far and one of the subjects discussed at length is finding BALANCE in our lives.

The journey of life is like a balancing act. To stay upright, we need to maintain a balance between work and play, richness and poorness, asceticism and indulgence, and so on. When we are off balance, we stumble through the ups and downs in life without direction. With balance comes clarity, so that we can take the ups and downs in our stride.

The philosophy of balance can be found in many of the world’s religions, particularly the eastern religions. In Buddhism, there is the principle of the “Middle Way”. In Confucianism we have the “Doctrine of the Mean”. In Taoism there is the balance between yin and yang, and from Hinduism we have the concept of balancing your chakras.

Over the course of this year at the end of each month I will post my thoughts and journey on leading a balanced life......well that is what I am hoping will prevail!

Taking this journey with me but using their own words are:
AVT Coach......Abundance
Annemarie (So I Was Thinking)....Discipline.
Roban (Moments in Time).......Faith and Joy

Let the states of equilibrium and harmony exist in perfection, and a happy order will prevail throughout heaven and earth, and all things will be nourished and flourish. [The Doctrine of the Mean, James Legge translation].

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Acquired Taste

I FEEL like an oyster. Not because I'm small and slippery. Nor because I'm grey...(that is my hair colour if it wasn't coloured)! No, I feel like an oyster because someone has called my writing style "an acquired taste".

What's an acquired taste? Something you come to like following a period when you didn't. Indeed, you can start off with an intense dislike; and then bit by bit, it grows on you. After a while, you no longer experience the urge to gag. With time, you look forward to whatever it it. Ultimately, it becomes something you choose.

I think back on mushrooms, red wine, opera, mathematics and my ex-husband - all acquired tastes. Your list will necessarily be different.

The "acquired taste" may also suggest that one does it less for intrinsic reasons and more for instrumental gain - such as the associations that accrue. In this case, you may deliberately cultivate your taste because it's important that people know this side of you.

Since babies start off in Blandsville - think breast and whale sounds - most of life's experiences await acquisition. You could say that life itself is an acquired taste. (And then you die).

"Taste" has many meanings and when it means "keenly discriminating", we're on a slippery slope. I mean, do you know anyone who would say they have bad taste? Like "a good sense of humour" (GOSH) in the personal ads, everyone thinks they have one.

Yet, the inherent subjectivity of aesthetic judgment is grounded in the expression "there's no accounting for taste". What taste does, whether acquired or instantaneous, whether pro or contra, is put on display the sides of ourselves we want others to see.

My mother will call something "an acquired taste" when she doesn't want to eat it. Which of course brings me back to me and feeling like an oyster!

Children are sometimes an 'acquired taste'........Is this little boy?
Joseph playing in his new cubby house on Monday

Saturday, 3 January 2009

A Bit of Humour

I thought I would start 2009 with some humour, my favourite pastime!

Smile. Have you ever noticed how easily puppies make human friends? Yet all they do is wag their tails and fall over. ~Walter Anderson, The Confidence Course, 1997


The child was a typical four-year-old girl -- cute, inquisitive, bright as a new penny.
When she expressed difficulty in grasping the concept of marriage, her father decided to pull out his wedding photo album, thinking visual images would help.
One page after another, he pointed out the bride arriving at the church, the entrance, the wedding ceremony, the recessional, the reception, etc.
"Now do you understand?" he asked.
"I think so," she said, "is that when mommy came to work for us?"


"Bible Story"
A father was reading Bible stories to his young son.
He read, "The man named Lot was warned to take his wife and flee out of the city, but his wife looked back and was turned to salt".
His son asked, "What happened to the flea?"


Senility Prayer
God, grant me the Senility
To forget the people
I never liked anyway,
The good fortune
To run into the ones I do,
And the eyesight
To tell the difference.


How is it that "Fat Chance" and "Slim Chance" mean the same thing?!?!


HEARSAY: What toddlers do when anyone mutters a dirty word.
ADULT: A person who has stopped growing at both ends and is now growing in the middle.
FULL NAME: What you call your child when you're mad at him/her.
COURTESY: The art of yawning with your mouth closed.


I Wish I Was A Bear...

If you're a bear, you get to hibernate. You do nothing but sleep for six months.
I could deal with that.
Before you hibernate, you're supposed to eat yourself stupid.
I could deal with that, too.
If you're a mama bear, everyone knows you mean business.
You swat anyone who bothers your cubs. If your cubs get out of line, you swat them too.
Your husband expects you to growl when you wake up. He also expects you to have hairy legs and excess body fat.
I wish I was a bear.


Early one morning, a mother went in to wake up her son.
"Wake up, son. It's time to go to school!"
"But why, Mom? I don't want to go."
"Give me two reasons why you don't want to go."
"Well, the kids hate me for one, and the teachers hate me, too!"
"Oh, that's no reason not to go to school. Come on now and get ready."
"Give me two reasons why I should go to school."
"Well, for one, you're 52-years-old. And for another, you're the Principal!"

Sculpture by the Sea - Bondi - Nov 2006