Wednesday, 26 December 2012

My Word for 2013 - Surrender

Every year, I choose (or am led to, really) a single word-concept that will be the overall focus for the coming year.  For 2013 my word for the year will be SURRENDER.

I've been doing this for five years now, and it's a very interesting process. Generally, the things experienced and learned for a given word-concept are ongoing, that is, it's not like the moment the calender swings over, everything to do with that word-concept just stops. It's more like planting seeds, which grow into plants, which keep growing and blossoming and bearing fruit, although the focus changes to some new plant.

In our Western culture, SURRENDER has often been synonymous with LOSING. As in, poor you, you gave in, you gave up, you great big LOSER. Wars are created because the parties involved just couldn't let go, forgive, give in, release.

Surrendering is never seen as winning, in this way of looking at things. Non-resistance is seen as weakness, along with gentleness and passivity. The concepts of honour and saving face rule over all. People are more afraid of losing than of dying horribly and violently.

In 2013 instead of being caught up in what could be, what should be, or holding on to shouldas, couldas and wouldas, I'm simply going to attempt to surrender more to what is.  An alternative word could have been acceptance, but acceptance is done superficially each and every day.  To surrender seems more profound and purposeful, which is precisely why I need to do it more often.

How about you my fellow bloggers? Do you have a word for 2013?

"If you surrender completely to the moments as they pass, you live more richly those moments"
~~  Anne Morrow Lindbergh

This photo was taken at Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, Sydney in 2008 and made into a Scrapblog.
The artist Steinunn Thorarinsdottir from Iceland called the sculpture "Presence"

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

The Real Things in Life - Part 2

More advice that is constantly offered:

Be Healthy!

Of course it's good to be healthy, but this advice is normally so thoroughly bundled up with shame it often does more harm than good.

Yes, people enjoy happier and longer lives if they are not carrying extra weight.

They also enjoy longer and happier lives if they are not laid low by anxiety, depression and self-contempt.

Is our central problem that we ask too little of ourselves or that we demand too much?

We hate ourselves for our every imperfection and then we over-consume in various ways to suppress the shame of that previous over-consumption.

There are two epidemics under way in the West - obesity and depression.

How interesting that both started just as people began obsessing over their body mass index.

"The trouble with always trying to preserve the health of the body is that it is so difficult to do without destroying the health of the mind."
~~ G.K. Chesterton

I haven't shown photos of my two favourite boys for some time.  Here are a couple taken this year.

Bella and Charlie (aged 8) hanging out together - June 2012

Joseph aged 6. Photo taken at his school art exhibition  - September 2012.

PS  Still haven't found another music site, but discovered how to add a youtube and start it playing when you click on my blog.  So much for the peace and quiet!

Monday, 10 December 2012

The Real Things in Life - Part 1

People give us advice all day long - parents, lifestyle coaches, magazines, self-help gurus.  What a pity most of it is wrong!

Here is some food for thought Part 1:
Live in the present - This piece of advice is so often cited it has become a reason for NOT living in the present, since so much of the "present" now consists of people lecturing us about how we should live in it.

Actually the recollected past and the anticipated future are both quite nourishing places.  The present nearly always involves a soup of distractions; it contains the thing that's important, plus lots of things that get in the way.

Recollecting the moment you stood in front of a favourite painting/sculpture, for example, is often better than the moment itself, in recollection you can strip out all the things that were unimportant: your sore feet, the couple talking loudly behind you, the queue for admission.  Memory pares down the moment to its essence.

The same is true of the birth of a child, a kiss, a bushwalk.  In memory, the experience is at its most intense and pure.  After remembering these things in blissful reverie, we can then anticipate similar, or better, experiences in the future, the hoped-for experience fizzing in our mind in a way that is pure and unencumbered.

I'm not attacking the present.  It's highly useful in prompting both recollection and anticipation - the real things in life.

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes"
~~ Marcel Proust

Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, Sydney November 2012.
Artist Greer Taylor, NSW called this delightful piece of artwork "transition"

PS My music site MixPod has closed and I haven't found the time to find another site, but I will get around to it shortly....meanwhile enjoy the peace and quiet.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Move Into The Sun

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

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

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

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

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

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

My friend Rose grows these beautiful orchids and has them in the perfect position for them to flourish.
These lovely women are a joy to spend time with and I feel so blessed to call each of them my friend.

These life long friends always let me shine and bring out the best in me.

Monday, 15 October 2012

My Mother and the GG

Her Excellency, Ms Quentin Bryce, Governor-General of Australia - 10 October 2012

For 5 years my mother (Beryl) and I have been volunteering for a children's organisation called AWCH (Association for the Wellbeing of Children in Healthcare). Beryl makes cookies every week for the office staff and I assist with administration jobs.

Last Wednesday AWCH celebrated the 25th Anniversary of one of it's programs called The Ward Grandparents Scheme.  This was hosted by the Governor-General of Australia, Quentin Bryce, at Admiralty House in Kirribilli, Sydney with an afternoon tea. Her Excellency was AWCH's first national president.

As you could imagine Beryl was over the moon and I was too, at the thought of meeting this lovely lady. And Quentin did not disappoint, she lived up to her reputation of the most elegant lady in Australia.  A lady who was genuinely interested in each person she spoke to.

Beryl has had an exciting year this year, she turned 90 in March and received many letters of congratulation including the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard; the Governor of NSW, Marie Bashir; Members of Parliament and Senators.  Meeting the Governor-General was the icing on the cake.

Beryl was chosen by Ms Bryce to stand next to her in the group photo. (Beryl is in the purple outfit).

Beryl and I in the front row with two other office volunteers.

View from Admiralty House, Kirribilli, Sydney

Monday, 17 September 2012

Nature-Deficit Disorder

“The future will belong to the nature-smart....those individuals, families, businesses, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.”

For most people in their 50s and 60s, memories of childhood are wrapped up with nature: visits to farms owned by friends or relatives; days spent poking around the creeks or fields that intersected the suburbs; a tree house assembled by an unsupervised crew of 10-year-olds in nearby bush, mostly using materials pinched from home.

In just one generation, Louv argues, this easy access to nature has largely disappeared. This matters in all sorts of ways. Louv cites the recent leap in the incidence of short-sightedness. According to a 2008 Australian study, 12-year-olds with the lowest levels of outdoor activity were two to three times more likely to develop myopia. The reason: their eyes have not been exercised by focusing on a distant horizon.

There's something unbelievably sad about a childhood without far horizons: not only the missing eye exercise, but the missing daydreaming and hike planning, the urge to both wander and wonder that comes with the sight of a distant horizon.

According to Louv, time in nature also reduces anxiety by giving us perspective on our problems.

I remember childhood conflicts, with either parents or friends, and how I would take off from home and go walking in the bush and climb a tree so I could look out. Suddenly I was calmer and no longer felt caught in the centre of a storm.

Instead of this time in nature, many people - both young and old - now spend time with social media. Social media, of course, has many good points, especially the way it allows us to form communities outside the limitations of what's on offer in our own neighbourhood, office or school.

It strikes me, though, that social media also involves experiences that are exactly the opposite to what I found in nature.

If the bush makes you seem a small part of a big world, social media makes you feel like a big part of a small world. If nature dissolves ego, social media pumps it up.

No wonder so many of us are anxious.

Facebook and Twitter create a sense that we're at the centre of a Universe of our own creation - we're the planet around which everything swirls: our friends, our tastes, our hobbies.

They don't call them iPads and iPhones for nothing.

Even the name Facebook suggests a mirror into which we gaze at our own reflection. There can be power in that, I guess; the self-esteem of "likes" and "retweets", friendship requests and extra "followers". Yet, as every teenager knows, ego always seems to travel hand-in-hand with self-doubt, and time spent staring appreciatively into the mirror almost always turns sour.

So remember the antidote and the cure lies just an hour or two north, or south, or east, or west of where you are sitting right now.

It waits. The sky so bright it hurts your eyes. The eucalypt leaves glinting like silver.

These two photos below were taken on 1st September 2012 when a girlfriend and myself spent 4 hours wandering through Piles Creek reserve in the Brisbane Water National Park (about an hours drive north of Sydney).

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Putting It Out There!

I'm a firm believer in the power of the written word.  It’s a form of “putting it out there” to the Universe.

“The pen is mightier than the sword” least so says English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839But this is the twenty-first century – not the nineteenth, and times have radically changed. Today most people’s writing involves e-mails, text messages, twittering, Facebook and the like; lots of touching base but little true writing.
So in these days we might ask afresh, Is the pen still mightier than the sword?  Should the written word still be considered a powerful weapon in the modern culture in which we live?
The effort of putting pen to paper (metaphorically speaking) is considerable.  Every article we write may not have a powerful result, but it could!
It can be pervasive.

It can permeates lives, penetrating where spoken words would be shut out.
One of the reasons for this is that there is an implied acceptance when we choose to pick up something to read.  In essence, we have given it the right to speak into our lives.

Because of this, an article can often penetrate a resistant heart, for just the action of choosing to read it opens the door to the truth it contains.
The pervasive power of writing also comes from the fact that, since written words easily endure, they often make it to places we would never dream.
So let the writing begin! 

“A drop of ink may make a million think.”
~~George Gordon Byron  

I found this fabulous picture on latest addiction!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Ever Widening Circles

A really useful concept or thoughtful question doesn't just sit there.

It lands!

And it doesn't just land. It touches down in your consciousness and ripples out. Circles echoing circles. Reverberating.

It sets off a chain of spiraling cycles that move outward and downward simultaneously.

What started as a stone is not just stone. Skipping out over the water, it has now become a new thing that is STONE - MEETING - WATER.

No longer an object but an encounter. Maybe even a relationship. Patterns and circles. Centre and periphery.

As each question, stone skips its way through the water, the ever-widening circles takes me places.

I find the connections.....the self-similarity.

I can feel into the stretch of continuity between past, hurting me and where I am now, and then slightly future me who is waiting, arm stretched out, full of love.

The information accessed through stone-skipping is not the stuff you know from the surface. It has a different tone, a different vibration. It has different elements too. Water and stone.

You can use anything as a stone.

A word, a quality, a mantra, a question, a thought, a rhythm, a colour, a pattern, a shape.

"My books are like water; those of the great geniuses are wine. (Fortunately) everybody drinks water".
~~ Mark Twain

Above photo taken at Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, Sydney, Nov 2011 - Artist Keizo Ushio from Japan called it "Moebius in Space Planet" .
His statement - "The human being sometimes realises that we are one of the parts of nature"

Saturday, 7 April 2012


Why is such a tricky question.

Maybe even the trickiest.

There are times when it is so completely not useful to ask why.

The resistance-filled why, which takes me into self-interrogation and blame.

But there is also the helpful why.

The one that is loving, curious and receptive.

"You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star."
 ~Friedrich Nietzsche

"Why does the eye see a thing more clearly in dreams than the imagination when awake?"
~~ Leonardo da Vinci

This beautiful monarch butterfly landed on my hand in Christchurch, New Zealand  when we went to the City Museum in February 2012.  Such a wonderful sensation.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Powerful Questions

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

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

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

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

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

2. Which is worse, failing or never trying?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"There are four questions of value in life... What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for, and what is worth dying for? The answer to each is the same. Only love."
~~ Johnny Depp

Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, Sydney - November 2009

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Inspirational Dianne

Dianne, Joseph and Charlie 24 December 2011 - Manly Hospital, Sydney, Australia

Dianne Ruth Schmidt has died this morning at the age of 64 after a long battle with cancer.

Her courage and enduring spirit was such an inspiration for many of us.

I have been blessed to have known and loved Dianne for over 30 years.

I will miss her.

I will cry.

I will grieve.

But most of all I will celebrate Dianne's life as she always had the most incredible spark and passion for everything she did.

I am a better person for knowing Dianne.

"Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then you shall truly dance….
For what is it to die, but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun….
And what is it to cease breathing,
but to free the breath, from its restless tides,
that it may rise,
and expand,
and seek God

~~ Kahlil Gibran ~~

Dianne the artist at home in Cromer, Sydney - 20 February 2007

Dianne, Peggy and Joseph - August 2008 Joseph's 2nd birthday.

Dianne in January 2009 at the '80 Exhibition in Sydney.

Dianne and her daughter Talie, Christmas 2009, Sydney.

Dianne and her son-in-law Chris, May 2010, Sydney.

Dianne and I at Collaroy Beach, Sydney - 13 November 2011

Final photo taken of Dianne on her birthday 17th January 2012. She had a very happy day celebrating with her art friends.

"Soar my friend to the skies of love so high above"

Love you always sweet angel. xxxxxxooooooo

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Writing a Letter

To sit at a computer-free desk with a pen,

to pull out a sheet of your hand-printed headed notepaper,

to write those first two words "Dear Friend",

and then to pause a while before letting the ink flow onto the page with tales of your doings and your worries,

to fold up the paper,

slip it into an envelope,

write the address out,

stick on the stamp,

drop it into the letter-box,

and then imagine the pleasure that your letter will bring,

the physical pleasure of opening it and reading it at the other end.

- ah, is this not happiness?

"To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart."
~~ Phyllis Theroux

The other day out walking I came across a carving of a lizard in a rock...isn't he beautiful - 8 February 2012, Sydney.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Two Different Worlds

Isn't it an amazing world we live in, being able to connect and share our lives via blogging and Flickr etc with people we have never met in real life.

What is perplexing though is none of my real life or offline friends engage with me on my blog, although they all know I blog regularly. Perhaps it's because they knew me before I blogged, I don't know.

They haven't a clue as to what goes on in the blogosphere or the sort of conversations/thoughts that take place here. I am sure some of them think of blogging as being some sort of narcissistic exercise that has little value.

It's almost like they don't know me as well as my online friends. Such a strange thing to say, isn't it.

Our blogs, photos say much about where we are at the moment, where we are going and who we are becoming. Both posts and comments provide a wealth of information.

I feel I live in two different worlds or living a double life. My online and offline lives are, while fundamentally the same, incredibly different.

I think both worlds serve a unique purpose. I don't think they need to necessarily converge, but it does become frustrating to have that sort of gap when you're speaking to somebody (real life). Then again, I suppose it's entirely different type of growth and experience.

I was "talking" to my lovely, talented online friend Maureen the other day and here is part of what she wrote.

"I can honestly say that I get more support and encouragement from my online friends than I ever have from my other friends.
Not that my friends aren't supportive, but they have lives that go in different directions. Here, online, I have friends that have common interests and goals and dreams. Hey. None of my real friends talk about their dreams, or their One Little Word (OLW). And that's a bit sad, but it's the truth."

I am so grateful to have found so many likeminded people in cyberspace who realise the power of sharing and giving of themselves and I have been so fortunate to have met many bloggers in real life and look forward to meeting more in the future.

So keep shining my wonderful online friends and I hope you realise how loved you all are.


"In order to keep a true perspective of one's importance, everyone should have a dog that will worship him and a cat that will ignore him."
~~ Anonymous

I discovered I could still make cards on Scrapblog (they were bought out by Mixbook) so I made another card to place in the books I leave in the park opposite my house.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Enter The Dragon

Chinese New Year 2012 begins on 23rd January and ends on 9th February 2013.

This year is the Water Dragon. I was born a Water Dragon!

"Water Dragons are able to see things from other points of view. They don’t have the need to always be right. Their decisions, if well-researched, are usually better since they allow other’s to become involved."

Here are a few things I discovered about the Dragon in Chinese astrology:

"The dragon is the only animal of the Chinese zodiac year that is not real. It is quite special and very much revered and was seen as a powerful almighty king because it was made up of different parts of animals such as a tiger, fish, snake and an eagle."

"They certainly are not shy – they demand attention and respect."

"They are free spirited creatures who believe that rules and regulations are for other people. Naturally confident and very fearless, they are usually very successful."

So what does 2012 hold for a person born in the Chinese Year of the Dragon?

"Such people will double their efforts in whatever they do - work, education and other projects. Their natural talent and abilities should stand out with great results."

Let's welcome the Year of the Dragon with open hearts, open minds and open arms.

I know I will!!


"I believe in everything until it's disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it's in your mind. Who's to say that dreams and nightmares aren't as real as the here and now?"
~~ John Lennon

On my daily walk I spotted this dragon or wyvern on a eh!! - August 2011.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

A Change of Mindset and Perseverance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As this is my first post for 2012, it brings to mind my Word of the Year.

This year I have chosen Perseverence. I am hoping that when life's obstacles cross my path I will be able to focus on the positive and keep on keeping on.

"When the world says, "Give up,"
Hope whispers, "Try it one more time."
~ Author Unknown

My inspiring friend Dianne, who spent Christmas and New Year in hospital does not know the meaning of "give up", she lives in hope for her cancer ridden body to be healed so she can enjoy her grandchildren Joseph and Charlie for many years to come. - Photo taken Manly Hospital 24 December 2011