Saturday, 20 November 2010

Making Up Our Own Minds

"Make up your mind" is a phrase that's rarely used without some undercurrent of frustration or impatience.

It is likely to be thrown at us when we can't seem to act decisively. Or when we can't choose instantly between competing possibilities. We might use it ourselves if we know what we want and someone else seems to be dithering.

It is a phrase that sends a strong message of criticism - as though instant decision-making were itself a virtue, regardless of the seriousness of the situation.

The chance to make up our own minds - and to know them - is one of the greatest gifts of human consciousness. In lives as privileged as most of ours are, "choice" has real meaning.

We can "make up our minds" about our most fundamental decisions - including our lifestyle, values, relationships, beliefs and goals.

We can't determine everything that happens to us, but we can decide what steps we will then take. We can think hard about our strengths and how we are using them. We can also take charge of what influences us......recognising this can be daunting. But I see it as liberating.

"Making up our own minds" means we are not letting circumstances, laziness or other people make up our minds or run our lives for us.

Self-responsibility triumphs here.

And it lets us set the compass for our future!

"Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen."
~~ Ralph Emerson

My friend Dianne made up her mind that cancer was not going to sap the life out of her. She is fighting it and winning! Photo of Dianne in her art studio Feb 2007.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010


Use it or lose it, they say!

Usually the slogan refers to memory or frequent flyer points but the same applies to vocabulary, too.

Maybe you learnt a word last week - let's call it "farkle" - and unless you use farkle in a sentence pretty soon then the same word is likely to melt into oblivion.

Let's pretend farkle means to pick up an object with your toes. Anglers at low tide can be nifty farklers of buried pipi shells, just as anyone who's gathered a sock off the floor has been known to indulge in farkling.

That's the problem with acquiring strange words. Unless we use them, then the farkles of this world will only grow stranger to us.

According to different sources on the web this is what I learnt about farkle:

"Motorcycle enthusiasts may install accessories, called farkles (also spelled farkel), to customize their machine. The term Farkle apparently originated among the ST1100 riders. It is an acronym:"

F ancy
A ccessory
R eally
K ool &
L ikely
E xpensive

"Always and never are two words you should always remember never to use."
~~ Wendell Johnson

Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, 2010 - The artist Angus Adameitis called this sculpture "Beside the point". I feel this sculpture represents the word "Farkle" explicatively.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Peace of Mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The world needs souls to be restless sometimes!

"We seek to find peace of mind in the word, the formula, the ritual. The hope is illusion."
~~ Benjamin Cardozo

Sculpture by the Sea, Oct 2010. The artist gave it the title "Mirroring". For me it represents the struggle we have with ourselves in finding that elusive balance.

Saturday, 30 October 2010


I'm thinking about two especially frightening mental places to find yourself in life.

The one where you think everything is limited.

And the one where you realize that everything is possible.

Everything and Nothing!

There is truth in the statement that everything is limited.

And there is also truth in the statement that everything is possible. And there is the truth of the continuum.

Part of accessing possibility is the ability to ask, “What else is true here?”

"Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't."
~~ Mark Twain (American Humorist, Writer and Lecturer. 1835-1910)

I took this photo at Sculpture by the Sea on 29th October 2010. The artist Peter Tilley called it "Dreams of ordinary people". He also made a statement - "Imagining a voyage through time: a journey through life's obstacles".

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Ode to Nature

As I walk along this delightful path with the light above me, I can feel the warm sunshine on my skin and a slight breeze mussing with my hair. My lungs fill with air that smells fresh, not city stale.

As the trail continues the light changes to a speckled dance along the path. A rustling in the undergrowth delivers my very first sighting of a wild creature. Something I would have missed if I hadn’t been using my ears as well as my eyes.

As I venture further I can feel the leaves brushing my arms and the subtle change in temperature as I move between patches of sunlight.

As I emerge from the trees I am confronted by open fields surrounded by a sea of golden grass. The sun is strong and I can feel perspiration forming on my back.

I feel calm and full of life as I soak up the beauty of nature, in all its forms and am thankful that I have five senses with which to experience such a wonderful place.

I penned this after my encounter with nature. Sometimes it is wonderful to walk alone, not with a destination in mind, but just to see where the path leads.

I am reading a very insightful book called
"The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron given to me by my good friend Stoneweaver. Amongst other things Julia encourages her readers to have an 'artist date' each week by ourselves to nurture our creative consciousness.

Well I had a wonderful 'artist date' and the plan is to have another one next week to feed my artist child!

Stanwell Park, a coastal village near Wollongong, NSW, Australia - October 2010

"In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they're still beautiful".
~~ Alice Walker (American writer, b.1944)

Monday, 11 October 2010

Dream It, List It, Do It!

I have been so fortunate to cross off 3 items on my bucket list this year.

Two bloggers helped give my dreams wings and shared in the adventure/experience.

First item crossed off the list was swimming with dolphins in March at Kaikoura in the South Island of New Zealand with my blogging, now real life friend, Stoneweaver. What a mind blowing experience that was!!!

Next when I was in Texas, USA in July staying with another blogging, now real life friend, Annemarie we danced in the rain with her son. That was a wonderful, joyous occasion.

The third item was climbing a tall tree. Once again Stoneweaver put her hand up and when she visited me in Australia with her husband in September we drove down to Balmoral Beach in Sydney and after much huffing and puffing managed to climb an ancient Banyan tree.

My next dream is to set up a Foundation to help Not-for-profit organisations run their programs.

So about it!!!!!!

"The reason why the universe is eternal is that it does not live for itself; it gives life to others as it transforms."
~~ Lao Tzu Chinese taoist Philosopher, founder of Taoism, 600 BC-531 BC

Update Bulletin - 24th October 2010

My Foundation is now up and running! I have called it "Bella Jules" meaning beautiful and youthful. I will be handing out my first donation next week which is a very exciting moment in time. Thank you Universe!!!

That is me in an amazing, ancient banyan tree in Balmoral, Sydney in September 2010

Here is the Banyan tree in all it's glory!

Friday, 24 September 2010

Fable of the Porcupine

Received this message via email today.

This story is great, a real eye opener, if only we can just remember it!

"It was the coldest winter ever - many animals died because of the cold. The porcupines, realizing the situation, decided to group together. This way they covered and protected themselves; but the quills of each one wounded their closest companions even though they gave off heat to each other.

After awhile they decided to distance themselves from each other and they began to die, alone and frozen.

So they had to make a choice: either accept the quills of their companions or disappear from the Earth.

Wisely, they decided to go back to being together. This way they learned to live with the little wounds that were caused by the close relationship with their companion, but the most important part of it, was the heat that came from the others. This way they were able to survive."

Moral of the story:
The best relationship is not the one that brings together perfect people, but when each individual learns to live with the imperfections of others and can admire the other person's good qualities.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Quick-Witted Child

At my supermarket I noticed a woman with four boys and a baby.

Her patience was wearing thin as the boys called out "Mummy! Mummy! while she tried to shop.

Finally she blurted out, "I don't want to hear the word Mummy for at least ten minutes!"

The boys fell silent for a few seconds.

Then one tugged on his mother's dress and said softly,

"Excuse me, miss!"

I smiled all day remembering that conversation.

Hope something or someone made you smile today and vice versa.

"You've got to get up every morning with a smile on your face, And show the world all the love in your heart, Then people gonna treat you better, You're gonna find, yes you will, That you're beautiful as you feel".
~~ Carole King

Here is another quick-witted child that keeps me on my toes! Joseph in our favourite park in Cromer, Sydney, September 2010

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Great Mysteries

The Bermuda Triangle. The Mary Celeste. The Loch Ness Monster. Crop Circles. Atlantis.....

These are some of the great mysteries of the world that have always fascinated me.

But really we don't need to look to exotic locales, alien life forms or the seabed for mystery - it lurks right at home, in our wardrobes and drawers!

So after years of research with archaeologists, UFO investigators and experts in the paranormal, I have assembled the ultimate list of the Great Clothing and Style Mysteries:

How do fine gold chains get knotted and tangled sitting in a box in a drawer?

How do earrings put away in pairs become solo?

Why do hems fall down and buttons drop off only when you are in a horrendous rush?

How do moths know which is your most expensive cashmere jumper?

Why do you always lose the expensive sunglasses, but seem able to keep the pair you bought in a service station for years?

How does the tissue manage to escape the pocket inspection you always do before the black wash?

How does the pair of new black undies hide away in the drum of the washing machine just before you put a white load on hot?

How do silk blouses attract salad dressing?

Why are so many leading designers of women's clothes men?

Why do people with naturally straight hair always want curls, and the reverse?

Ditto large/small bosoms? And sticky-out flat bottoms?

Why can you never find anything you like when you have some money put aside to spend on new clothes?

Why are the "special occasion" dresses, shoes and handbags we pay the most for the ones we wear the fewest times?

Why do we continue to judge female politicians on what they wear?


"It is completely unimportant. That is why it is so interesting!"
~~ Agatha Christie(1890-1976)

Both photos below were taken in Gudvangen on the west coast of Norway near Flam when Annemarie and I were on our road trip through the most scenic country in the world in July 2010

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Choosing My Thoughts

Being away from the blogging world while I was travelling the past 6 weeks gave me an opportunity to pick up and read several books.

I forgot how "delicious" books can be and how much I enjoyed devouring them!

I read about destiny and choosing our thoughts. Fascinating subjects.

Destiny is like a relationship - a play between divine grace and willful self-effort. Half of it we have no control over; half of it is absolutely in our hands and our actions will show measurable consequence.

We gallop through our lives like circus performers balancing on two speeding side-by-side horses - one foot is on the horse called "fate" and the other on the horse called "free will". And the question we have to ask every day is - which horse is which? Which horse do I need to stop worrying about because it's not under my control, and which do I need to steer with concentrated effort?

I feel there is so much about my fate I cannot control, but other things do fall under my jurisdiction. I can decide how to spend my time, whom I interact with, whom I share my body, life, money and energy with. I can select what I eat, read and study.

I can choose how I'm going to regard unfortunate circumstances in my life - whether I see them as curses or opportunities (and on the occasions when I can't rise to the most optimistic viewpoint, because I'm feeling too damn sorry for myself, I can choose to keep trying to change my outlook).

I can choose my words and the tone of voice in which I speak to others. And most of all I can choose my thoughts.

I am learning how to select my thoughts just the same way I select what clothes I'm gonna wear each day. Because if I can't learn to master my thinking, I will be in deep trouble!

So this is my mission and it will never end.

"All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking"
~~ Friedrich Nietzsche 1844-1900

Photo taken in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, August 2010. We got up early to see the sunrise and then the fog descended upon us. I am hoping my thoughts will not be devoured by fog.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

A "Real" Friend

"What is real?" asked the rabbit one day. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you, and a stick out handle?"

"Real isn't how you were made." said the Skin Horse, "it's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become Real.

It doesn't happen all at once." said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time.....Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been rubbed off and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.

But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real, you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

This excerpt was from Margery Williams book "The Velveteen Rabbit".

It sums up perfectly how my friends have helped me "Become Real".....especially my cyberspace friends. Isn't it interesting what influences in our lives mould and shape us.

I love the person I have become.....I could never imagine writing that 5 years ago! I feel I have finally woken my soul.

So once again bless you my wonderful Internet friends for helping me "Become Real"!

"A friend is someone who helps you up when you're down, and if they can't, they lay down beside you and listen."

Friday, 11 June 2010


Courage is doing what is right for you when no-one else thinks it is!!

So step outside your comfort zone, give it a try.....don't wonder "what if?"

Sometimes suffering brings us the freedom and confidence to make bold choices about how we want to live the rest of our lives.

Believe in the power of your spirit.

Difficult journeys can offer us the chance to learn that we are loved and cared about.

I count myself fortunate to have had this chance to know so clearly and so strongly.

"Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall."
~~ Confucious

This Sculpture by the Sea photo taken in November 2009 was called "A Man Above" by Philippe Moreau.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

All About You

THERE'S you, good old you, not too bad, not too good, safe, sure, reliable, steady as you go YOU!

A bit of a deterioration really from the perfect baby your mother claims you were.

What can you possibly add to the sum of yourself that would make you love yourself more?

Not something for the kids, or your husband or wife, or your friends.

No more self-sacrifice or feeling sorry for yourself.

Add something that makes you more valuable and lovable to the person you talk to all the time. That person is YOU!

Keep thinking for as long as it takes to find the value you want to add. Unless you're perfect already, it's generally not too hard to find a least one "If only...."

You know, if only I had the time, money, education, intelligence, talent, I would.....

If you're going to add value to yourself you must make yourself the top priority. You are, after all, the most urgent project you can possibly undertake.

Working on yourself is the single most rewarding thing you can do.

Eventually everyone you know will benefit hugely from the result.

"They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel."
~~ Carl W. Buechner

My cats Ellie and Wilson always know it is all about them!! - May 2006

January 2009

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

A Smile

Is the most beautiful and multi-lingual silent statement.

A smile can mean so many things:


I am so happy

Guess what I've been doing?

I am a friend


Pleased to meet you

No one can tell I'm in pain

Everything will be all right

It's great to see you back on your feet and looking so well

I'm here if you need a hug!

"You've got to get up every morning with a smile on your face, And show the world all the love in your heart, Then people gonna treat you better, You're gonna find, yes you will, That you're beautiful as you feel."
~~ Carole King

My favourite photo of Joseph taken in Dee Why February 2009.

Here is Joseph's version of the ABC song - he is my little ray of sunshine and always makes me smile! - May 2010

Thursday, 27 May 2010

No Interruptions Please

OK, we get it. People in Iceland are perpetually cold. But does that mean they have to take it out on the rest of us? For the past couple of decades, they've been doing their best to bring the world to its knees.

First it was the export of Bjork, a woman whose singing pitch causes seizures among laboratory mice. Then it was the global financial crisis, with Iceland queueing to be the first country to go broke, after a collapse in the futures market for herring.

The Icelandic economy still had its AAA credit rating but the three A's were henceforth followed by the letters RRRGGGHHH. Suddenly, everyone realised Iceland mainly consisted of ice — a fact, you may think, the Icelanders had disclosed when they named it Iceland.

Still, no one was more surprised than the world's financial experts — a group of people who were already shocked to discover that unemployed people in the US's south sometimes found it hard to repay their home loans.

In the aftermath of these revelations, the world demanded that Iceland start paying its way. In response, Icelanders have developed a new export industry: ash.

They are distributing it by air, all over Europe, sourcing it from a volcano, the pronunciation of which is impossible unless the speaker is simultaneously regurgitating fish.

Traditionally, when a volcano went up, the response was to throw in a few virgins to propitiate the gods. Presumably, the world's airlines tried gathering cabin staff for sacrifice but were stymied when Qantas couldn't find any virgins.

I find myself spluttering with arrogant questions. Can't we just pour concrete into the volcano? Or blow it up? Or have Bjork sing to it?

Apparently not. We are like ants running around this thing. It's a power beyond us: a super-sized lava lamp with a missing "off" switch.

Annemarie and I are flying to Norway on 13th July and return 27th July. I hereby ask (plead) Eyjafjallajokull to take a vacation as well, in the depth of your own being and curtail any eruptions until after those dates.....or for another few hundred years!

"The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasent things as interruptions of one's "own" or "real" life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life---the life that God is sending one day by day: what one calls one's "real life" is a phantom of one's own imagination."
~~C.S. Lewis

Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, Sydney - November 2009

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Centre of the Road

I've spent much of my life walking down the centre of the road.

I tell myself it's important to be safe. Security comes first.

It's a hard cruel world, so I'd better play it safe now than be sorry later.

Fools rush in.......

But nothing is more certain than if I walk down the centre of the road, I am going to be hit by the traffic coming from both directions.

Playing it safe is the most dangerous thing I can possibly do.

So I am going to dream the impossible dream and start walking towards it.

Lyrics from Left of Center by Suzanne Vega

"If you want me, you can find me,
left of center, off of the strip
in the outskirts, in the fringes,
in the corner, out of the grip"

Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, Sydney, November 2009.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Downside Up!

can you remember

when you were a kid

and you'd lie in the grass on your back

and watch the clouds scud above you

and dream of what you were going to be when you grew up?

well, what happened?

"Downside up, upside down
Take my weight off the ground
Falling deep in the sky
Slipping in the unknown"
~~ Peter Gabriel

This is how I saw Joseph downside up! - May 2010

Tuesday, 18 May 2010


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

This is what I do:

make pictures in my mind.

see the destination.

imagine my arrival.

dream in perfect detail.

make myself a road map.

study it every day until I know the way and the destination by heart.

see myself the way I want to be when I arrive.

see myself arriving.

"Without this playing of fantasy, no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of imagination is incalculable."
~~ Carl Jung

I wonder what my cat Wilson is visualising? - Taken in February 2008

Friday, 14 May 2010

A Friend of the Truest Kind

A friend.......

is someone who keeps your secrets

and never divulges them, even if tortured -

or worse, tempted with chocolate!

is someone who quietly destroys the photograph

that makes you look like a beached whale.

is someone who knows you don't know

what you're talking about, but allows you to reach

that conclusion on your own.

is someone who goes with you on a diet -

and off it too.

is someone who doesn't say "I told you so."

no matter how tempting it might be.

A friend of the truest kind is kind and true.

"Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose."
~~ Tennessee Williams American playwright. 1911-1983)

Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, Sydney - November 2007

Saturday, 1 May 2010


I have been thinking about synchronicity quite a bit lately.

According to wikipedia "Synchronicity" is the experience of two or more events that are apparently causally unrelated occurring together in a meaningful manner. To count as synchronicity, the events should be unlikely to occur together by chance.

The term was coined by the famous psychologist Carl Jung who used it to explain occurrences like a beetle flying into his studio just as a patient was discussing a beetle in his dream.

Carl Jung also believed in clairvoyance, telepathy, ESP, telekinesis, and astrology; he believed in what he called a "collective unconscious", a sea of consciousness in which we all swim.

What distinguishes synchronicity from coincidence is meaning. Synchronicity is the experience of meaningful coincidences. I believe that life is not a meaningless string of random experiences that happen to us and over which we have absolutely no control.

I believe there are no un-meaningful coincidences!

"The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it Intuition or what you will, the solution comes to you and you don't know how or why"
~~ Albert Einstein

I was out bushwalking in Cromer, Sydney on Wednesday and came across this heart carved out in a made me smile.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Pay It Forward Day

Thursday April 29, 2010 - Pay It Forward Day

Please join me on Thursday and lets create a ripple effect that will last all year.....until 2011 when we can do it all Ground Hog Day!

One good deed might not seem like much, but if everyone did something good for someone else then the cycle of generosity and kindness can spark us to become better people.

Operating on the premise that we all have it in our power to help another, one individual truly can change the world.

A day of great is that! And kindness is contagious!

"They say don’t believe your own hype, but if you don’t why would anyone else? To be great you have to believe you can do great things."
~~ Charley Johnson

Photo taken at Sculpture by the Sea, Nov 2008

Saturday, 24 April 2010

A True Story

The following was found posted very low on a refrigerator door.

Dear Dogs and Cats:
The dishes with the paw prints are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Placing a pawprint in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Racing me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort, however. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other, stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out on the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.

For the last time, there is no secret exit from the bathroom! If, by some miracle, I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge in an attempt to open the door. I must exit through the same door I entered. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years - canine/feline attendance is not required.

The proper order for kissing is: Kiss me first, then go smell the other dog or cat's bottom. I cannot stress this enough!

"The little furry buggers are just deep, deep wells you throw all your emotions into." ~~ Bruce Schimmel

"Man, unlike the animals, has never learned that the sole purpose of life is to enjoy it." ~~ Samuel Butler

The expression on the faces of my cats Wilson and Ellie says it you think they are listening!!! - March 2008

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

I've Learned

I've learned that the most creative ideas come from beginners - not the experts.

I've learned that worry is often a substitute for action.

I've learned that if you like yourself and who you are, then you'll probably like almost everyone you meet regardless of who they are.

I've learned that everyone has something to teach.

I've learned that you can get by on charm for about fifteen minutes. After that, you'd better know something.

I've learned that the greatest challenge of life is to decide what's important and to disregard everything else.

I've learned that you can't be a hero without taking chances.

I've learned that my greatest fear is that in later years I'll look back at a long list of things I "never got around to".

I've learned that lying in the green grass of an empty field makes you feel so good.

I've learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you. But if you focus on your family, the needs of others, your work, meeting new people and doing the very best you can happiness will find you.

I've learned that animals can sometimes warm your heart better than people can.

I've learned that sometimes life hands you situations when all you can do is put one foot in front of the other and live moment to moment.

I've learned that I still have a lot to learn!

"I must learn to love the fool in me the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries."
~~ Theodore Isaac Rubin

My favourite tree in The Rocks, Sydney - taken 7th March 2010.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Myths, Misconceptions, Beliefs

Most of us like to think we have a pretty good idea how others behave. It's one of those basic adult skills, based on self-knowledge, our observation of others and the inherited wisdom of the ages.

Understanding human behaviour; how hard can it be?

Well according to this article I read, it's difficult and many of us go through life with deeply flawed notions of how people feel and behave. Statements/questions like:

"Do you believe most teenagers experience a period of turmoil"
"People use only 10 per cent of their brains"
"Criminal profiling works"
"Do you think individuals commonly repress the memories of traumatic events"
"Men and women communicate in completely different ways".

If we believe these things, we're wrong. But we are not alone!

There are various reasons why such myths become lodged in our minds but at the base of the problem is the simple fact we seem to need a set of such beliefs to function.

But what really caught my attention was the section about happiness and the myth that says happiness is mostly determined by our external circumstances. Meaning if we change those circumstances, we can make ourselves much happier.

According to the "experts" we are each born with a genetically determined "set point" of happiness, a baseline from which we bounce up and down in response to short-term events.

So it appears that most happy people are that way because they're born like that, which, of course, is terribly unfair - another reason many of us would rather believe happiness can be acquired through effort. The brutal conclusion was that "trying to be happier is like trying to be taller".

I do believe when I read one of the greatest of all myths is that the major determinant of happiness is material wealth. The research shows that above a modest level of wealth, money doesn't make much difference. Nor, by the way, do life events. Happy people tend not to experience more awards and promotions.

But it did say enjoying quality time with friends and loved ones, memorable trips with people we care deeply about and special nights out with romantic partners will contribute to our happiness.

Sadness is increasingly seen NOT as a normal part of life but as a weakness, something to be eradicated.

I agree we should embrace those dark parts of our life, they are natural and normal. When we embrace those darker sides of experience, those times when we're sad or sorrowful, we often learn things about ourselves that we would not learn had we simply remained content.

Many myths apparently stem from an overestimation of the role of early life experience and the notion that the first few years of life are somehow much more powerful than the later years.

Other myths stem from the myth of fragility, the idea that most of us are delicate creatures who easily crack in the face of trauma.

We don't hear/read about strength very often, certainly not in the media. There is no drama in buildings that stay up, trains that run on time and people who cope with pressure.

"We can keep from a child all knowledge of earlier myths, but we cannot take from him the need for mythology"
~~ Carl Gustav Jung

Dianne & I, Easter 2010. She is such an inspiration and believes she will beat the horrible cancer that is trying to destroy her body.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Stroke Me Stroke Me

Why do we blog??.......OR more to the point WHY DO I BLOG?

I have given this question considerable thought and concluded it is because I love being stroked, complimented, flattered, I being shallow?


Blogging has enhanced my creative side and expanded my knowledge 100 fold. I actually feel I am a better person since I started blogging.

I blog to be part of a community of people whom I respect; I want to understand your thinking and I want you to understand mine.

I blog to be part of the conversation. I blog to remember. I blog to refine my thinking. I blog because I don't think I really understand something until I write about it.

Finally I blog because there are truly remarkable people in the world, who perhaps would not be recognized by the world. I blog to connect with persons who share some (if not all) of my values.

So I keep coming back to blogging because of YOU my friends, yes YOU, I keep coming back because of YOU. BLESS YOU.

"A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked".
~~ Bernard Meltzer

BTW the dolphin encounter was mind blowing. Everyday I relive being graced by those amazing creatures.

This is a postcard of the spectacular Dusty Dolphins that Stoneweaver & I had the privilege of playing with in Kaikoura, New Zealand, March 2010.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Dreaming of Dolphins

I am leaving for New Zealand tomorrow for a week's holiday and to make one of my lifetime dreams come true......swimming with dolphins in the open sea!

I will also be seeing my now 'real life' friend Stoneweaver again which will be awesome....AND AND AND we will both be meeting up with another blogger Marja for the first time.......LIFE IS GOOD!

I have decided to rehash a post I wrote about dolphins back in November 2009. When I wrote this post I had no idea that just a few months later I would be making a connection with these incredible creatures.

So take care dear friends, "see you" in April.

Please remember to......Keep smiling.....Keep shining.

One day a long time ago, I was watching a documentary about dolphins and something inside me clicked. I was well into my late 20’s and was watching the television as if I was glued to it. It felt as if I was in a mind-meld with the dolphins and it was too a point that I started to cry because on some spiritual level, I understood what these dolphins were saying. I just knew that the dolphin was my Spiritual Animal Totem, I just knew it!

The beautiful, graceful, sleek dolphin carries many messages for the two legged! A key to understanding because the dolphin meaning is connected with themes of duality. It has to do with the dolphin being both fish and mammal. It is both of the water, and an air breather. Ergo, dolphin symbolism talks to us about "being in two worlds at once." Indeed, the dolphin is a great conveyor of the concept of yin and yang.

It is playful, and is a reminder that time to play is a crucial element in walking in BALANCE. It moves through the water quickly and with great grace, ever moving with the flow. Dolphins tell us to move with the ebb and flow of life, and not to search for brick walls to smash into. To spend our energy fighting the current gets us nowhere. Being constantly at war with others, with our surroundings and with circumstances we cannot change, destroys the spirit, eats away at hope, and consumes the joy of life.

The power of the Dolphin is community in BALANCE.

"The animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren; they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth".
~ Henry Beston, The Outermost House, 1928

Sunday, 14 March 2010

A Bit of Advice

Joseph 1 day old in August 2006.

Letter to be given to Joseph on his 18th birthday:

Dear Joe, may angel face friend
  • Don't listen to baby boomers who tell you you've got to slow down and "smell the roses". We never took that advice when we were young and neither should you. Throw yourself at life!
  • Don't cross the road with your iPod on....or whatever the devise is called in 2025.
  • Never get into a fight with your neighbours. Apologise. Make Peace. Buy them a case of beer......anything.
  • When meeting someone over lunch, the way they treat the waiter is a better guide to their character than how they treat you.
  • Eat your vegetables and clean your teeth.
  • You are what you eat but also what you read and watch and hear. Don't feed your brain with rubbish, at least not all the time.
  • Don't be negative. Whingeing is for people who want to blame others for their troubles, because it's easier than finding their own way forward. If a friend makes a habit of bad-mouthing other people, take a moment to wonder what they say about you. Spend your mental energy on people who think you are terrific, not people who dislike you.
  • Tread carefully if a friend asks you to counsel them about their love life. Never agree with their assessment that their ex-partner is horrid, as they will make up the next day.
  • Never ignore an invitation to dance.
  • Never buy an expensive umbrella as you'll lose it within the month.
  • Don't be tight with your money when it comes to your friends or charity.
  • Surround yourself with people who bring out your best side; people in whose company you become fabulous, funny and wise.
  • Remember the most important decision you'll ever make isn't about career or investments, it's your choice of life partner.
And remember I will always love you unconditionally.

Pegs xxxxxx

"To love is to risk not being loved in return. To hope is to risk pain. To try is to risk failure, but risk must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing." ~~ Author Unknown

Joseph - March 2010, Cromer, Sydney - In our favourite park.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Turn The Page

I threw my phone books out the other day. For months they'd sat in a corner of my office, unopened and unused, victims of a world where, with a click of a mouse, I can get anyone's phone number, their educational history and a tour of their street.

Beyond its cockroach squishing properties, the phone book has outlived its usefulness. Yet parting with something as archaic and unwieldy as the telephone directory came with some unexpected nostalgia.

When compared with other anachronisms such as the typewriter or Polaroid camera, the space the phonebook occupies in my cumulative reference library of associations is limited. But as I dropped the volumes into the recycling bin, I felt a little of my life went with them.

It is difficult to comprehend a world without the phone book. How to forget the hours trying to find the number of a teenage crush. And what of those black-and-white scenes of detectives drinking coffee and spending all night calling every "Schultz" in town until the mystery blonde in the negligee picked up the receiver and whispered: "Be careful my husband might be listening". Does Sam Spade googling photos of someone's company fun run carry the same air?

A future without phone books is a radically unfamiliar world. Corrupt policemen will beat suspects with modems, and strongmen in sideshows will tear laptops in half. Interior designers will add "period" touches to the apartments of investment bankers by scattering copies of the Yellow Pages.

Every year the world and I grow a little more unfamiliar. No one sends postcards anymore. Wallets are being replaced by mobile phones with built-in credit cards.

Life before Twitter, cyber bullying or Paris Hilton had something to recommend it, if only that it didn't have any of them.

It was slower, knowledge was more precious for having been hard won, there was no glowing oracle to tell you every answer. If you wanted to find that forgotten high school love, you had to open a book and start turning, one page at a time.

"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers."
~~ Charles W. Eliot, The Happy Life, 1896

My bookends

Friday, 5 March 2010

The Real World Rocks

The real world is a magical place especially when it collides with the virtual world.

Stoneweaver flew to Australia from New Zealand last week (although she was sitting in an aeroplane as she hasn't grown wings yet) and we hung out for 5 days. What a delightful lady to explore Sydney with. To laugh with. To share stories with. To eat with. To drink with.

We would never had met if we hadn't blogged. So three cheers for the blogosphere.

Stoneweaver is returning the favour and I will be flying to New Zealand on March 20th for a week. As well as exploring her lovely country we will be swimming with dolphins at Kaikoura. All my life I have been wanted to swim with dolphins, it is a dream come true. I am sure these dolphins will touch me in a special way that my heart will leap and their beauty and grace will bring me to tears.

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
~~ Albert Einstein

Stoneweaver & I took a ferry ride to Watsons Bay where we enjoyed the most delicious lunch at Doyles. - Feb 2010

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

A Platform For Our Lives

The internet is not just a place to find a bargain or a mate - it has become the platform for our lives.

In 2007, Facebook exploded. Ordinary people posted their pictures and profiles online, proving that the web was no longer an arena just for geeks and gossip hounds, music buffs, porn addicts and lonely hearts.

It was for everyone. On a mass impulse many of us jumped on board the electronic merry-go-round.

Did we do it in a spirit of adventure or resignation?

Was it inevitable or had we gone mad?

I believe the answer is YES, we are nuts and worse, we can no longer opt out! Our lives have changed irrevocably.

If one factor changed the face of the internet, it was broadband. Once the internet was switched on all the time, everyone from toddlers to maiden aunts became intimate with it.

The world that computing makes possible can no longer be thought of as parallel to the real world: the two have merged.

The web is now the platform on which we live our lives. From this point on the story of computing is no longer the history of a machine. It is the story of a culture, though it is barely five years old.

I have been trying to take a break from blogging to see what it would be like to live in the real world without my virtual friends. I may succeed this time, at least for a couple of weeks anyway.

So if you don't see me around it's because I am wandering around smelling the roses. I may get lost, but I am sure I will find my way back home....because YOU are family!

Keep shining.......keep smiling.

"Computers are magnificent tools for the realization of our dreams, but no machine can replace the human spark of spirit, compassion, love, and understanding."
~~ Louis Gerstner

As well as smelling the roses I am going to talk to the animals. These cockatoos visit Dianne's house in Cromer, Sydney every day. (photo taken 31st January 2010.)

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Telling Tails

Have you ever seen that episode of The Simpsons where Bart and Lisa meet a mad professor and they can see into the future?

Bart as a teenager with a big belly in development is pretty funny, but the moment that made me hoot with laughter was one of those passing vignettes the show is so good at.

The scene pans over a futurist streetscape and as it reaches a shop hoarding saying "Plastic Surgery", Selma - or it could have been Patty; one of Marge's dreadful sisters, anyway - walks out of the building. She is sporting a fine bushy tail. I shrieked. Mainly because I've always wanted a tail and what a brave new world it would be that had such plastic surgery in it.

I mean, why not! I think a tail would be not only devilishly attractive, but awfully useful. Monkeys use their tails as a fifth limb, but you can also be very expressive with one, as any pet owner knows.

My friend's dog, Ollie, practically takes off wagging his tail when pack members like myself arrive at the house. We often comment that it's a shame we couldn't harness his tail-wagging energy for the national grid.

But it's probably cats that take the language of tails to the highest level. I adore it when a cat stalks into a room with its tail held aloft at a perfect right angle to its butt, anus fully revealed. It's so incredibly snobby and most felines seem to do it when there are visitors. "You may briefly inhabit my sitting room, oh pitiful unknown human. I will allow it. But you must admire me."

My own furry lump, Ellie, conveys irritation very eloquently with tail twitching, developing into full swishing, when I groom her (she finds it very insulting). Once the tail starts to whack slowly from side to side, I know I have only a few seconds before serious injury. Ouch!

One of my favourite Simpson quotes:
Homer: "How is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain. Remember when I took that home winemaking course, and I forgot how to drive?"
Marge: "That's because you were drunk!"

My cats Wilson & Ellie in Nov 2006 waiting at the door to be let out. Their tails are in perfect sync.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Pen and Paper

I read an article the other day that urged people to consider setting aside our computer and all the writing habits we associate with it and to write in our journals by HAND.....scary thought eh!

Picking up a pen, allowing our hand to move across the page, engaging the intricately related activities of brain and hand may not produce "better" writing, but it can certainly produce freer writing and, in journal writing, that can quickly lead to insights we seldom expect.

What's more, the article suggested, handwriting can tell a story in a way that print on a screen never can. Like what was happening on the day our writing was so rushed that we can now hardly read it? Or about the day when we took time to draw sketches alongside the writing, or lavishly underlined so many of our words.

After reading the article it occurred to me how vital it is for all of us to spend time in physical activities that connect us with the real, rather than the virtual world.

Observing children, it becomes obvious how great their need is to play in sand, to create a miniature world with sticks and mud, to throw themselves into the ocean, to pick flowers, to dam a small creek, to sleep under the stars or in a tent or to run up a small hill and roll all the way down.

Swimming, running, riding, taking long walks for moment-by-moment discovery and not to get anywhere, listening to and telling stories, playing "make-believe" or playing and co-operating without comparing or needing particular skills; this is the best therapy - the best play, the best fun - any child could have.

A child's longings can't be satisfied by virtual experiences only.

They - and we - need first-hand experiences to feel content and complete.

"Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning."
~~ Maya Angelou - American Poet, b.1928

Sculpture by the Sea, Nov 2003. The artist Phyllis Koshland called this bronze piece "The Swing" and stated 'everyone should have fun with sculpture'.

Sculpture by the Sea, Nov 2003. Artist Willemina Villari called this piece 'The Viewers'.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Spoon Fed

"I'm NOT a pheasant plucker;
I'm a pheasant plucker's son.
Nonetheless, I pluck pheasants all day
Until the pheasant plucking is done."

Phew, I made it. Not one slip-up, despite the traps lying in the schoolyard rhyme, each one spring-loaded by the Reverend William Spooner.

He's the Oxford don who said "shoving leopard for loving shepherd."

Nowadays, we call such gaffes spoonerisms. Even when Spooner was among the living, the term had made the dictionary, the source himself still lecturing at New College, saying tasted worms instead of wasted terms, and worse.

"Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon."
~~ E. M. Forster English Novelist and Essayist, 1879-1970

Another Sculpture by the Sea photo taken in November 2007. The artist Tomas Misura called it "Twisted Reality"

Monday, 18 January 2010

Simplicity verses Complexity

The Buddhist scholar and teacher Stephen Batchelor stated:

"How much of our life is spent in avoiding what we really are?
Yet in a quiet corner of ourselves, do we not secretly recognise the deceptive strategies of such avoidance?
How often do we find ourselves happily indulging in some trivial pursuit, even though a deeper awareness is whispering to us of its futility?"

I feel we live in a society where we like skating over the surface of things. We prefer simplicity to complexity in the way we consider our needs and the way we organise our collective lives.

Photo taken at Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, Sydney, Nov 2009.

Friday, 15 January 2010


I have written about fear several times since I started blogging. This four letter word that we often give so much power to is one of the most debilitating emotions one can experience.

Maybe we could look at FEAR from a different perspective.

The myth of fear is that we're supposed to overcome it or conquer it.

The truth about fear is that if we learn to talk to it and treat it with respect, it will teach us how not to be afraid.

Yes, it can be horrible and crippling and awful.

Trust me on this one. I know fear pretty well. I know the kind that causes full-body trembling and awful heart palpitations. And the kind that makes you think demons are flying at you through the windows. And the kind that has you sobbing and writhing on the floor.

Fear can be debilitating. So I don’t mean to be going off on some annoying spiritual kick about how it’s good for you or something. It’s just that you don’t want to battle it.

And not just because battling it makes the fear stronger (it does), but because — when you talk to it — your fear is the best teacher you will ever have.

Instead of kicking fear, you can dissolve it. It can kick back, but it can’t dissolve *you*. The only way to get the fear to dissolve is to interact with it. Just like you, it wants to be noticed and cared for.
Your fear needs to know that you are taking steps to keep yourself safe. So give it some reassurance.

Think of it this way. Your fear is like a knight. It has a mission or a quest or whatever to keep you safe from failure and humiliation and things going horribly, horribly wrong.

So it keeps you from working on the thing you want to do. It shows up again and again, with worry and doubt and what-iffery.

A misguided strategy, yes. But well-intended. Annoyingly well-intended.
If you want your fear to stop scaring you silly, you’re going to need to reassure it that its mission has not been in vain.

In fact, you can tell your fear that you’re going to release it from its quest and take over the mission of looking out for your own well-being.

Talking to your fear is a great way to achieve distance from it. When you’re talking to your fear, it isn’t you anymore. It’s just a temporary part of you. You contain it, but you contain a lot of things.

This distance, paradoxically, allows you to befriend it.

Befriending it, paradoxically, allows it to become something else.

I know. Argh, stupid paradox. Is it scary to talk to your fear? To even acknowledge its shadowy presence in the room? Absolutely. I’m sorry.

So — that’s the sum of my wisdom today.

Your fear is normal. Your fear is legitimate. Your fear is talking to you. Find out what you need to know.

Much love to you as you take this journey.

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

I have used this photo before but I feel it represents what I am trying to convey in this post.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

I Do Exclaim!!

Mamma Mia had one. So did Moulin Rouge and WHAM. Musicals, in fact adore them, with Oliver and Oklahoma each getting their slice of the action. As did Keating and Hello Dolly.

I'm talking about the exclamation mark, that stand-up, shout-out piece of punctuation that stabs the modern message. There's Jeopardy! and Yahoo! And the gossip mag OK!

Back in 1972, when Grease was the word, it didn't need an exclamation mark. The word was enough. Not now.

Nicknamed "screamers" by printers, exclamation marks are cold sores of the keyboard. One peck and the itch goes deeper. Germans have the right idea, using the symbol as a warning on autobahns, a shorthand tip to steer well clear.

As a kid I played a board game called Sorry! and failed to suspect contagion. Help! sang the Beatles, and we never lifted a finger.

Before 1970 the exclamation mark was a three-key operation - full-stop, backspace, then the apostrophe - but that would be unthinkable in these emphatic times.

Research suggests the punctuation to be ironic, a wink at a trend among comedies such as Airplane! and Run, Fatboy, Run!

F.Scott Fitzgerald said "An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own joke."

"When my sonnet was rejected, I exclaimed, 'Damn the age; I will write for Antiquity!'"
~~ Charles Lamb English Critic, Poet and Essayist, 1775-1834

This is my sweet Miss Ellie relaxing on the BBQ January 2010

This photo I feel could warrant an exclamation mark or two!!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Calling All Angels

According to my good friend Dianne (Joseph's grandmother) I have a young soul.

When we went to "The '80's Are Back" Exhibition this week, which by the way was excellent, the conversation turned to angels and Dianne related many stories about angels that had visited her since she was a small child. Wonderful, fascinating stories that had me listening attentively and wishing I had at least experienced once.

The reason we were talking about angels was because Dianne has recently been diagnosed with Stage 3 Bowel Cancer from which she could die. As some of you know I believe in angels and was given a small metal one by Wendy, another dear friend. I told Dianne I wanted to lend my angel to her until she gets well. She gratefully accepted the gift and promised to hold this angel tight whenever she needed support.

This is not the first time Dianne has needed the angels help. 10 years ago an aneurysm burst in her brain leaving her severely disabled. Over the years she has slowly regained her speech and movement on the right hand side of her body. She even regained her driving licence!

So I am calling on all the angels. I want my friend around for a few more decades. I am learning so much from this old soul.

I wrote 2 poems in July and August 2009, "Ode to Angels" and "Believing in Angels". I was obviously surrounded by angels when I penned them. The final words from the last one are..."I am burning a candle right here in my heart, I MUST Believe".

"Friends are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly". ~~ Author Unknown

This is Dianne at the '80's exhibition, Sydney, January 2010.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

New Beginning

Well a new decade has arrived.....twenty-ten. Sounds like the future doesn't it. Not the present.

It’s been an incredible roller coaster of a decade and I’m ready for something new although I haven't got a plan yet, at least not for the first six months.

I’m feeling optimistic but that is nothing new. So out with the old and in with the new....maybe my new word for the year should be NEW.

Anyway dear blogger friends when I have a plan I will share my journey. It will probably be mainly in photos and quotes as my blog was very wordy in 2009.

Let the games begin......Carpe Diem

"You are always a valuable, worthwhile human being -- not because anybody says so, not because you're successful, not because you make a lot of money -- but because you decide to believe it and for no other reason.”

Wayne Dyer quotes (American motivational Speaker)

My mother (Beryl) dancing and singing to her favourite song by Nat King Cole, "Rambling Rose"....30 December 2009, Lindfield, Sydney (not bad for 87 years young!).