Sunday, 28 December 2014

Blessings of Small Things

Why are we so hungry for bad news? Why do we spend so much time contemplating one moment of horror and so little time thinking about what is right with the world?

Fear is entangled in our DNA. The tribe with high levels of anxiety, perpetually scanning the horizon for signs of trouble, was more likely to survive. Many thousands of generations later, we stare at a car crash with a mixture of pity and empathy, together with an urge to avoid the same fate.

When Alfred Hitchcock was asked, ''How long can you show a couple kissing on a bed?'', his answer was: ''As long as you like, providing there's a bomb ticking under it.'' In other words, fear is an easy emotion to arouse and then maintain.

Fear may be useful, but it can also produce self-fulfilling prophesies. Fear of crime, however unjustified, makes people avoid walking the streets at night, creating neighbourhood streets that really are less safe. Fear of an economic downturn means we stop spending, which then causes the very economic downturn we feared.

When people say ''count your blessings'', or invite you to hum along to ''accentuate the positive'', it can sound inane - a turning away from the world and its problems. Yet sometimes those problems grow larger because of thinking that is too negative, too fear-filled, too pessimistic.

Here's my point: there's nothing soft-minded about ''counting your blessings''.
Contemplating the good in the world is part of giving yourself an accurate grip on reality. This, in turn, is the only way to make good decisions and live a contented, successful life.

We shouldn't be shy about demanding a mix of news that is both good and bad. We also shouldn't fall for the idea that grim news is somehow more rigorous, or truthful, or serious, than news that captures the world in all its richness. (The same, incidentally, is true in the world of literature and film where ''the grimmer the better'' has become one of the more fatuous calling cards of our age).

So, let's say it out loud. We live a third longer than 50 years ago. Famine is much less common. In the fight against malaria, the humans are winning.

It's far, far better to be gay than was once the case. Sydney's air pollution is much lower than it was a generation ago. We decided to stop building our homes from asbestos sheeting.

And let's also give thanks to the Blessings of Small Things:
Most stains come out in the wash.
Snow falls on mountains, which are perfectly shaped for skiing.
The best-tasting drink in the world - water - is also the cheapest.
Deciduous trees grow leaves, and make shade, at just the right time of year.
Socks are designed to fit either the left foot or the right.
A beer tastes best after hard work.

And the more in love with someone you are, the better looking they become.

Actually, you know, it's a wonderful world.

“This is the only advice I offer you. Pick the small thing, and carry it on. Let it change your life.”
~~ Anna White

My friend Marja gave me this petite flower box for Christmas, isn't it lovely with the Christmas Bush.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Continuing the Tradition - My 2015 One Little Word is.......CONNECTING

Every year since 2009 I have picked a WORD for the New Year—as a sort of beacon to guide me through the coming 12 months. This word will help me focus on what I am looking to be, do, feel and stand for in the next 12 months.

For me, 2015 will be a year about CONNECTING.

Connecting more deeply with myself, my inner truth, my authentic self, others, community, love, passion, my own heart and soul.

Connecting even more with the feeling that not only is being good enough, it’s the only person I can be anyhow. Feeling like I need to be more like others just leaves me feeling like I'm not being who I NEED to be to fulfil my purpose.

Connecting with that deep part of me that can help me let go of some of those unrealistic expectations and external standards that don’t equal success for me.

I feel excited to see where my journey with this Word "Connecting" takes me.

How about you my fellow bloggers.  Do you have a Word for 2015?

My One Little Word from previous years were:
2009 - BALANCE
2010 - SEEK
2011 - SHARING


“Giving connects two people, the giver and the receiver, and this connection gives birth to a new sense of belonging.”
~~ Deepak Chopra

Newtown, Sydney, Australia 29 October 2014.
I am holding up my "Free Hugs" sign under this wonderful quote.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

A Call To Action

"It's never too late to be what you might have been" -George Eliot

Here is a call to action. It has always been a reminder for me to keep on target and not lose sight of the big picture. I haven't always known where my target is or quite what the big picture encompasses. Often knowing what it isn't is enough. I clearly remember, many years ago, saying to my ex husband with strong emotion, 'I don't want to do work in an office anymore being an accountant.'

'What do you want to do?' was his obvious reply.
'Something creative.'
'Like what?'
'I don't know.'
The shrug of his shoulders and bemused look, said it all.

The key to my future was that it needed to be something creative. I needed challenges - exciting challenges which would allow my creativity to bloom. I didn't realise the depth of my need at the time. When everything in my life completely changed five years later I embraced an entirely new career which has expanded and changed and creatively challenged me ever since. This blog is part of the rich tapestry of that challenge.

'It's never too late to be what you might have been' means for me, always being creative, and having variety with tasks. When familiarity and the world of the blasé strike, back I go into, 'How can I do this differently?'

The way I work my life is to have big goals and a big picture. How I will achieve my goals, I'm not quite certain - the secretaries of the sky can help me there. I do know, for me, the more I am in touch with the creative woman within, the happier I am.

Give it a go. Do some of those courses you have been putting off for years. Take up that hobby with enthusiasm. Look at your career and think clearly if it has all the elements in it to give you happiness. Some annoying elements you can live with. Being a square peg in a round hole, you must not tolerate!

What about the fear of giving away security? What about that? I know it is frightening. I have been there too. What I want for you is satisfaction and pleasure each day.

There is nothing more satisfying than knowing you are making a difference in the lives of others and knowing, as well, a feeling of confidence and self esteem.

There will be a way for you to have those feelings. Decide that's what you desire more than anything. Now, what are you prepared to do to make it happen?

Know that the very best for you will always come your way, if only you allow it to.

Follow your dreams.

In November 2006 I followed my dream and travelled to Rwanda to teach some orphans photography.  I would like to take up the challenge again and travel to another part of the world and see if I can make a small difference.

Friday, 25 April 2014

The Digital Age

Let's consider the pro's and con's of the digital age.
  • We Socialise In A New Way - we don’t learn how to read facial expressions or navigate “real world” social situations.
  • It's Becoming Harder To Concentrate - Heavy multitaskers are much more easily distracted.
  • The Types Of Friends We Make Is Changing - We're becoming more tribal and less exposed to people with interests or beliefs different from our own.
  • There’s An Awe-Inspiring Online World To Discover - Our fondness for the search field may lead to real-life adventures later on.
  • Privacy May Soon Be A Thing Of The Past - We might be forced to change our names one day in order to escape our cyber past.
  • We Could Stay Sharper, For LongerSearching and browsing on the internet exercises the brain in a way that is similar to solving a crossword puzzle.
  • We Procrastinate MoreAt the flip of your wrist, there’s YouTube, chat rooms, jokes, humour – whatever’s your poison, it’s all out there.  
  • Video Games Are Teaching Us New Skills The skills required for video games are being harnessed to useful ends in education, health and even geo-politics.
  • Technology Is Starting To Correct The Damage It CausesRSI will soon be a thing of the past. Instead, everything we presently see on computers, games consoles, tablets or smartphones will be projected in front of our eyes and we will use hand gestures and voice commands instead of keyboards, mouse clicks or iPhone “swipes”. 
  • We’re Becoming Less Empathetic This is down to the superficial way we consume information.
  • Our Memory Is Deteriorating - As it is now so easy to find information via Google we are getting worse at remembering any facts at all. 
  • We're Becoming “Cyberchondriacs” - GPs now estimate a day a week is spent dealing with patients who have diagnosed themselves online.  
So do the pro's outweigh the con's?

It will probably be years before we start to really understand the impact of some of these drawbacks and potential issues.

"I'm certainly not opposed to digital technology, whose graces I daily enjoy and rely on in so many ways. But I worry about our virtual blinders."
~~ Diane Ackerman

The Twelve Apostles - Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia - April 2014

Monday, 20 January 2014

The Outsiders

Being an outsider can have its benefits.

Outsiders can see the inside of things in ways that nobody else sees them.

A significant number of people are quite happy to be different from the rest.

Happy to think and act independently and sit on the outside.

It takes practice to be comfortable being an outsider, or even just being around people who seem like outsiders.

It’s not always easy - you can become the target of people’s fears or seem threatening when you are not.

But the rewards you get from an outsider’s perspective may surprise you and even delight you.

Give it a try!

“One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.”
~~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Sculpture by Neil Laredo called "Gate" taken at Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney on 9th October 2013.
Part of the Hidden Sculptures Exhibition.