Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Magic moments

I am constantly astounded by new technology.  We have digital cameras, camcorders, mobile phones, ipads and they all enable us to capture images of our lives, the people we are with and our experiences but nothing can capture the true magic moments of life.  Often you have to be still, you have to be completely in the moment to even experience it.  Like sitting still and stroking your child’s hair, a smile between soul mates, a shared understanding with a close friend, you can actually have a physically reaction to the love, your tummy might summersault, your heart might feel like it will burst, you feel light, your body gets flooded with joy and appreciation.  What makes these magically moments so special is they cannot be replicated, they cannot be captured, they are fleeting, like a butterfly landing on your hand, it cannot be predicted, you have to stop right there and then and experience it, and what a gift it is.

I love photos, I have way too many and want millions more.  I also have a camcorder but rarely use it because I actually want to be in the special moments not just recording them.  It is my New Years resolution to just experience the magic while it is happening, and it happens every day all around us, rather than being determined to capture, analyse, organise, predict or orchestrate.  Let’s see how I go.

My favourite quote of the moment is “One day I will look back and smile, because this is life and I decided to live it”.  This is so powerful.  Everything we do in life, whether it is making a bed, washing the dishes, paying the bills, catching up with friends, going to work it is all life and we can decide how we approach it.  Nothing is so serious that it is worth stress, worry, ulcers or heart attacks because one day you will look back and smile (hopefully).  Don’t get me wrong, I am a stresser, when I have something to organise that I feel very responsible for I get myself into a frenzied state on the inside, and then when it works out I am euphoric, I burn a lot of emotional energy at those times, but it is always my desire to become more at peace at all times, but I have a long way to go (just ask my husband how I responded when driving home from Dubbo after Christmas only to almost run out of fuel at Condamine and the fuel station wasn’t going to be open until the next day, I was not at peace).

When my daughters were outside playing with bubbles it got me daydreaming, bubbles are captivating, as they float through the air reflecting all the beautiful colours of the world.  I would like my life to be like a bubble; light, happy, free and beautiful right up until the day I go ‘pop’ – hopefully not literally.  Just like bubbles, we never know when that day might be so it is so important to make the most of each wonderful day we have here on earth.  I think it also helps to think of our children, spouses, parents, siblings and friends lives as bubbles.  They might not always be here so we should make every effort to appreciate and enjoy them whenever we are with them.  Not grab them and take control of them, because they will pop, but to stop and enjoy them completely.  Bubbles are very much like magic moments, you can not capture them, their beauty is fleeting and can only be enjoyed right there and then.

So here is to 2012, a year of smiles, bubbles and magic moments.  

Friday, 13 January 2012

Do you ever feel like your back lawn?

Over Christmas our back lawn was lush and green, it was soft, like a great big green carpet.  The kids ran around bare foot, laughing, falling, playing and making the most of the soft, cool grass.  This was due to a number of weeks of unprecedented rain and relatively mild temperatures.  It was a luxury. 

Now, only a few days into the New Year the lawn is dry, rough, wilted with tinges of brown.  Long, hot days have quickly sucked the life right out of it – I think this happens to most of us.  We feel inspired, motivated and excited after the festive period, we are rested and bound into the new year with enthusiasm.  Then life can leave us feeling dry, rough and seriously lacking vitality , whether it is the constant bombardment of negative news stories, growing responsibilities, a few disappointments or set-backs or mundane chores and activities, they all can gradually beat us down.

Despite the weather there are still some beautiful lawns, the ones with automatic pop-up sprinklers, the lawns who get enough water regularly, they remain a lush, green oasis, no matter how hot it gets. So if we are to remain lively, enthusiastic and joyful we need the equivalent of a pop-up watering system.  We need to work out what makes us feel refreshed, loved and vibrant and we need to set it on an automatic timer, which means we need to make it a habit.  If you wait for your lawn to die and then decide to put a sprinkler on it takes a lot more water and time than if your lawn gets water regularly.  It is absolutely the same for us.  We shouldn’t wait to feel like death before we decide to become reinvigorated.

So what would your pop-up sprinkler look like, what makes you feel healthy, cool, soft and luxurious?  For me at the moment it working with my husband to renovate our house,  spending time with friends, playing games with my children, talking to my sister and hearing stories about my nieces, it is reading a good book, enjoying a relaxing Chai latte, getting one of my magazines that I subscribe to in the mail, walking bare foot on beautiful grass, hearing music that talks right to my soul.  I am sure we all have different things.  We need to work out how much of each of these we need to incorporate and prioritise so that we remain at our utmost best each day and don’t get caught in a cycle of lush one week, dried out the next.

I am sure if the lawn had its way it would request shorter days, cooler temperatures, regular rainfall and somebody dedicated to mowing it, however, that is unlikely to happen so it goes into survival mode, it does the best with what it gets.  Again our life is exactly the same, most people have to work, have to get groceries and cook tea, and have responsibilities to children, spouse, friends and community.  We all have to live life and for most of us that involves some tasks that are draining, we have to live with most of that, there is not much we can do.  However, just like a regular soaking of cool water keeps the lawn vibrant and beautiful, regular participation in the things that make us happy and satisfied, will also make us vibrant and beautiful.  We owe it to ourselves and everybody around us to install our very own pop-up watering system.

What do you think?

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Happy New Year

Twenty-twelve in definitely underway, most people will be back at work, school is about to start, the festive season is all too quickly becoming a distant memory and credit card bills have replaced Christmas cards in the mail.  Many people will have taken some time over the New Year period to assess what they don’t like about themselves, their lives, or others, thought about what they would like to change and maybe set a resolution to deal with it.  Whether it is to quit smoking, lose weight, spend more time with your children, save more money, travel overseas, get a new job or do more exercise, the statistics show that between 50% and 80% of New Years resolutions will be broken by the end of January.  So is there any point to setting them in the first place? 

I have had many resolutions over the years that I never keep, like do more exercise, eat more fruit and veg, drink more water, be more organised, watch less television and on and on they go.   Each time I set them I can’t understand why I can’t keep them.  It seems in a blink of an eye these simple things are quickly forgotten, neglected or compromised as other temptations, priorities and tasks creep into each and every day.  I have some major personality idiosyncrasies, such as the desire to chat to and see my friends and family a lot, the tendency to be a little lazy, procrastinate and get easily distracted, and therefore my New Years resolutions get quickly high jacked. 

It is said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results so I think it is important to look at why so many New Years Resolutions don’t work.  Most of the literature suggests they don’t work because we set them on the 1st January and then we actually forget about them pretty quickly until the 1st January the following year, when we set them again. So we aren’t accountable, we don’t have any milestones, no success indicators, once we set the resolution we need to establish a plan to achieve it.

I have a different philosophy, I believe when most of us set resolutions we focus on the things we don’t like about ourselves or our lives, we bring to mind the things we are told we should do or be or we look at what we think is missing.  What about if we look at what we love to do, what we enjoy about our life and build on that, grow the positive things, build on our strengths and we may slowly shrink or strangle out the weaknesses or the less desirable aspects of our life.  Let me assure you there are plenty of people out there who will notice your shortcomings and comment on your mistakes or failures, so you don’t need to join the bandwagon.  You can take this time to look at what you love about you, what you enjoy, what makes your heart sing and sets your soul free.  Find that thing and resolve to indulge in it more, and I hope, if we can push through the fear, doubt and laziness, we will be able to keep the resolutions.

For me, my mind is constantly consumed with the fact that wealth and greed make us blind to what is really important, our affluence anesthetizes us so we ignore the thirsty, the hungry and the suffering – I want to avoid becoming blind.  So in 2012 I want to dedicate time to counting my blessings, I want to see and celebrate the small beauties in everyday, I want to breath deeply and slowly, often.   Above all I want to love deeply.  So there is my challenge for the year ahead.  Are you going to set a resolution?  If so I hope you can keep it and prove the statistics and sceptics wrong – good luck.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

When did we become so stupid

When did we become so stupid?  It seems the Government, both Federal and State, spends a massive amount of money telling us how we should live our lives.  Surely we know that providing oranges for our children is much better than coke and hot chips.  Do we not know that getting out and exercising is better for our health than watching television? When did we forget that children need to have breakfast before they go to school? Shouldn’t we know that speeding, drink driving or driving whilst fatigued could all be fatal?  As parents should we not supervise our children enough to monitor what they watch on TV and see on the internet, why do we need a government filter?  Why is it that bureaucrats in Canberra need to develop guidelines, policies, grant programs and advertising campaigns to assist us to live a good, safe, healthy life?  When did we stop taking responsibility for our own lives?  More importantly how do we get the responsibility back before it is too late?

I do not have any answers to these questions but I do know there are many Committees, organisations, working groups, research teams, consultants etc all focused on telling us how to live our lives.  More often than not these people are paid by the Government, using our taxes, to tell us how to live.  Does this not seem a little strange to you?  The more it happens I fear that we forget to think for ourselves, we start to think “Well if it was really bad for us the Government would tell us not to do it”.  So this means as a society we lose the ability to think for ourselves, we wait for the Government to do it for us.  Now this has to be bad, doesn’t it?

How I got to thinking about this topic is my life is full of free thinking, intelligent people, working hard, being innovative and dedicated to making this region a diverse and fantastic place to live.  They do not need the Government to tell them what to think, do, say, watch or eat.  Most of us are free-thinking, self motivated, capable human beings.  I understand the Government has a vital role to play in our society and we are blessed to live in a country where we can democratically elect our leaders and corruption is minimal.  I am not wanting to diminish the importance of Government, they have great programs that we all benefit from, but I would encourage us all to keep thinking for ourselves and taking responsibility for our own actions and decisions.

Count your blessings

A very common saying is “It is better to count your blessings than add up your troubles”.  I was talking to some friends recently about the benefits that come from being grateful for small blessings in your life.  The more small blessings you can recognise in every single day, the happier and more content you will be and the more blessings you will receive.  I don’t know the science behind this concept but it is absolutely true.

Since this conversation I have been trying to very consciously practise the concept of being grateful for small blessings, so the other day somebody said hello to me, I didn’t know them very well and they called me by the wrong name, but I was still grateful they took the time to say Hi.  On Saturday I felt quite unwell but still had lots to do, so instead of being miserable I was grateful I didn’t feel like that all the time.  It is a really fascinating mind shift, to be truly grateful for the smallest things in each day.  Two of our good family friends are about to move away from Roma, it makes me very sad and my first response is one of pessimism thinking life won’t be as good, things won’t be the same anymore, what’s the point of having friends if they just move away.  However, using this new way of thinking I am able to say I will miss them but I am grateful that I have met them and I hope we will always be friends.

I was very poor at uni, like most people, so during winter I was freezing, summer boiling, I couldn’t afford new clothes and I ate Weet-Bix for breakfast, lunch and tea regularly and I didn’t have a car so I walked a lot, and it always seemed to be raining. Basically I felt very sorry for myself but in my head I knew I was better off than most people in the world so I decided to sponsor a child in Ethiopia and I started a gratitude journal.  I tried to write five things in it every night that I was grateful for.  I remember writing things like ‘I’m grateful I have legs’ or ‘I’m grateful I can read and write’ but these were things from my head, not my heart, it didn’t matter what I wrote I was still very much focused on the things I wanted and so it didn’t really have any impact on my happiness. I was too young, and probably too spoilt, to really understand the concept, but I think it is more effective to try and be grateful throughout the day, as things are actually happening, rather than writing it down at the end of the day. 

By bringing your awareness to the joy and beauty that is abundant in your life your days will be better and life will be so much more enjoyable. Each time you recognise and give thanks for a small blessing in your day it is just like throwing a pebble into a pond, and every time you recognise a small blessing you send a wave across the water.  Something so small can have a big effect on the pond of life, it is amazing.

If you try counting the small blessings in your day but your problems still seem numerous and too big to bear remember this quote “If you want to forget all your troubles just wear shoes that are too tight.”  Puts everything in perspective really.

Please keep caring

This week I have experienced a complete mind-shift.  Similar to when people thought the world was flat and then they realised it was round – who would have thought.  Or when you were young and you truly thought the moon was made of cheese only to one day realise and accept it was made of rock.  These are life changing revelations and once you have them you can never go back to your old way of thinking.

Well I use to watch the news every night, I knew what was happening and I would donate money to relief efforts after a natural disaster occurred, discuss national and global political, health and social situations with friends or family and provide support to a good cause that was profiled in the media.  However once I had children I found the images and constant barrage of bad news too disturbing, for them and me, so I stopped watching.  Completely disengaged from the troubles of the world, it was easy I just turned off the television.  Well now I have come to realise that just because I don’t know about them does not mean I have less of a responsibility to help where I can, ignorance is not an excuse to avoid my responsibilities to my global brothers and sisters.  I have realised it is not ok to say “That is just too sad so I am going to ignore it”.

Since having this revelation I am left feeling guilty because I have completely ignored the Christchurch Earthquake and Japanese Tsunami, haven’t given a thought, or a cent, to the terrible suffering and pain of the poor people who are victims of these freak occurrences.  What if everybody had taken the same approach as me, turned off the television and just ignored the cries for help, it does not bear to think about it.

So in these times when it can feel like every second week there is a horrific natural disaster, we are left thinking surely it must stop soon and I can’t possibly donate anymore money to these appeals, I am urging us to be compassionate whenever disaster and injustice strikes.  I still will not be watch news and current affair programs or read newspapers, but in this connected age there is no excuse for not knowing what is happening around the world.  When we hear bad news I encourage you to hear it, to process it, to have a caring, concerned response and an instinctive desire to help our fellow human beings. 

Caring and helping does not mean we get completely overwhelmed by the devastating, sad and negative things that happen.  I do not watch news or read newspapers because I think they focus too much on the negative when there are equally positive and inspiring stories that could be reported.  The challenge lies in being able to intelligently process the information, act accordingly, treat others how you would like to be treated if you found yourself in a similar circumstance, and then continue to be a positive, effective and peaceful person in your daily life.  Dwelling on the bad, trying to pin blame on something or someone does not necessarily achieve anything, so finding the balance between caring and being consumed is crucial.

So if you have a niggling concern about a local, national or global issue, one that you have made the conscious decision not to think about because it is too sad, too hard and what can you really do about it anyway, I beg you to bring it to the front of your mind and act.  Think about it as if it were your child, mother, father, sister, brother, niece, nephew etc facing the challenge or injustice and act accordingly.  You can make a difference if you act, the world will only turn completely dark if we fail to care for each other, every time we help another human being hopes shines bright on humanity.  So please keep caring.