“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
As we approach the end of the year and prepare to welcome in the new this is an opportunity to reflect over the last 12 months. Around the world this has been a year of extremes, we have seen happiness, pride, hardship, cruelty and hope.
What has this year brought for you? Have you celebrated good news with the miracle of birth or good fortune? Has it been a year where you had to say goodbye to a loved one? Did you benefit from all your hard work or did it go unrewarded? Was this the year that you moved on from the past and threw off the shackles binding you? Has that special ‘some-one’ come into your life or returned? Did this year allow your dreams to come true? Or was it this year that killed off your hopes and aspirations?
Whether you are on the positive side of good news or the negative of bad it is still a time for reflection. This is the time to acknowledge life was good, this was a good time in your life and be thankful. To give praise to those who helped, to be humbly grateful and to thank whatever God is your doctrine.
Reflection is even more important if this has been a hard year, one that has been endured rather than enjoyed. We can still reflect upon our choices, decisions we have made; could they have been different? What could we have done to change anything? If we could, would we? Even in difficult times whether the problems are health, love, family or financial, reflection can offer us the insight to move forward or to change aspects of our decision making. In dark times there is usually some light and that may even be in the shape of a kind word or encouragement or the offer of support and for this we should give thanks.
With reflection we can look back at times that gave us a sense of achievement and pride and bask in those emotions. Likewise most of us have times that we are not so proud of, times when we handled another person’s emotions badly or were dismissive of someone. We will all have experienced times when someone behaved badly towards us and times when we have done similar. Reflection allows us to acknowledge the hurt caused to us and our responsibility in causing it to others. With that acknowledgement we can move on to a place that allows us to forgive. When we are in a better place in our lives, this can allow us to forgive others their actions. The next step is in forgiving ourselves and this can be harder to do. If we have acknowledged the hurt we have caused and are truly contrite then we should forgive ourselves with a greater awareness for the future.
“The past can’t be changed, can it? It can just be forgiven.”
The Minoan predication about the world coming to an end on the 21st December 2012 has passed and here we all are. 2012 has been a year of huge change, for most people it has been a year for re-assessing where they are; what they are doing and re-evaluating their values. Globally we are all facing difficulties with the financial markets, with global climate changes, terrible wars and unnecessary mass killings.
We are being forced to deal with the damage that has been done economically and environmentally, to look for answers that will result in creating a fairer balance and greater alignment in the world.
People everywhere no matter what doctrine are becoming more aware of energy and the positive benefits it can bring. The benefit of reflection is moving forward positively and learning from the past. The energy for this year has been stagnant and heavy but there has been a change since the 21st, the vibration feels lighter, freer and much calmer. There has been a shift and I believe that shift is in the way we as people are collectively looking at our world, our values and the world we wish to live in.
Take some time at the end of this old year and reflect, be honest with yourself, be kind and move positively into the New Year.
Wishing you the very best for 2013.
Life is a series of compromise and we learn this early on from our parents. We are told to share our toys and our treats with siblings and other children; it is the nice thing to do. Some children find this easy to do and others resist every step of the way. As the first child in the family all toys and treats are yours. Why then should another child or sibling being introduced into the circle make any difference to that? Is that a good enough reason to share your favourite things? Of course if you are born into an already established family then you learn this lesson from the onset. The pecking order is already in place and you will learn to wait patiently to play with what you want or muscle in from an early age and so our characters develop.
These early lessons are ones that we carry over into adult life. While some find it easy to compromise and fit in with other’s lives and plans, others struggle with accommodating and adjusting what they want with another’s needs.
When we embark upon our adult work life we are often filled with enthusiasm and idealistic views of how it will all work. It all looks easy combining life, hobbies, family, love interests and money with our work commitments. For most of us this is another exercise in compromise, often the work conditions are not conducive to the way of life we visualize. Maybe the company you work for are unethical, uncompromising and unrewarding. The reality dawns upon us that there is often a compromise to be made between our dreams and earning a living.
Our personal ethics, passions and beliefs are what drive us. So, how much are we prepared to compromise? At what point do we draw the line in the sand and say NO, walk away and find a different path, one that is true to who we are, the life we wish to lead and what we believe. Do we choose our own path or find another that is less of a compromise and more in alignment with our heart.
The decision is often made for us if our needs and responsibilities are great. Our choices become limited in order for us to earn a living to support our family and lifestyle and we compromise our dreams and integrity. We become compromised into accepting limitations, repressing our true thoughts for the sake of keeping a job or furthering our career; ignoring what our heart is telling us, nudging our integrity to the very darkest corners of our mind and heart. Suppressing our emotions and tailoring our responses become part of our lives and strip us bit by bit of our true identity. There is no easy answer or defined line drawn for us to see, it is personal to each of us. In order to achieve our goals we may be prepared to walk so far down a path and then find we have crossed over the line we found ‘acceptable’, that our way of life is so compromised it no longer resembles any part of us.
“Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts,…Your affectionate uncle, Screwtape.”
For others who do not have the restraints of family commitments they can choose to not compromise and maintain the integrity of their beliefs and standards. Maybe they can choose to walk so far down the road of compromise in the belief that they can achieve their dreams but with the freedom to walk away again. With every person there comes a point in life whether it is with a career; a love, choosing a family, a nomad lifestyle or stability that compromise will be made. What you compromise is an individual choice, what you are prepared to keep and let go off will be personal. What will it cost you? Will it be your lifestyle; your health, your wealth, a love, a family, your passion, your beliefs, your integrity?
Without compromise most marriages and relationships would not last. From the onset we are meeting each other with compromises, where we meet; where we eat, movies or dinner, tastes in music, choices of friends, who drives, who drinks, to have a family or not, way of life, too little sex, too much sex? It is all a compromise and we are prepared to do this for love and to sustain a way of life. We accept this as part of life and learn to blend in with each other, learn to adjust to other’s needs and priorities. This works well as long as the compromise is fair and evenly distributed. However, what is acceptable to one couple will be totally unthinkable to another, what makes one couple happy and content will be completely different to another. We all have our own sense of right and wrong and levels of compromise. With some relationships the compromise will be evenly distributed and for others the scales will be tipped dramatically. There is an art to compromise and that is completely individual, it does however work on the premise of some reward in one form or another.
“Compromise, if not the spice of life, is its solidity. It is what makes nations great and marriages happy”
Whilst we are taught from an early age to meet others part of the way, to comply with restrictions, to share, there is also something to be said about not compromising, especially our dreams and ambitions. If we are filled with a burning desire in life, whether that is to make a difference in the world by; teaching, to bring peace, healing, to create beautiful music, to inspire through art, to protect the weak and innocent, to bring joy then our vision and passion will not allow compromise to affect our dreams. However, it will without doubt be at the cost and compromise to other parts of our lives, even if only for a period of time.
“Nothing will bind the eyes of man quicker than the touch of compromise. A principle not compromised is a principle worth dying for. A dream not compromised is a dream worth living for.”
Reflect, pray, look into your heart, listen and trust what you are feeling.
Where do we get our inspiration from? Do most of us even look for it? Or do we find inspiration when we least expect it?
This month all year 12’s are sitting their HSC exams with nervousness and trepidation. This they have been told is what the last twelve years of education have been about. This they are told is the most important time of their lives. This is what will define where they go and how they will do in life.
Of course this is the obvious time and springboard for our young adult children to step into life and careers and a lot of them will do just that. However, even the ones that seem to have a sure, clear path ahead of them may well find that path has a way of weaving and creating different paths and avenues with opportunities, life styles and careers they may well have never even contemplated.
I recently attended my son’s year 12 graduation and it was wonderful to see the whole of the year 12 positioned in front of us elevated in tiers. All these lovely young men with life ahead of them, some certain of their next step and others not so sure where or what they will be doing. You could feel the happiness of the years spent at the school and the sadness at the thought of it ending, the awareness that life was now moving on for all of them, this time was now coming to an end.
Let us never be betrayed into saying we have finished our education; because that would mean we had stopped growing. Julia H. Gulliver
The guest inspirational speaker was an ex student, Stirling Mortlock a former Wallaby Captain. Now I have to be honest I am not a big rugby fan but as an inspiration to all the young men sat there that day on the stage and in the audience I felt Stirling spoke to the heart of every one of them.
He came on after all the awards and recognition had been given to all the young men in the first four rows for well-deserved achievements in academia, sport, arts and extra curricula events. Stirling described himself as a ‘late achiever’, he explained how he never really excelled at anything at school; he enjoyed sport but never really shone, he enjoyed school but never achieved any awards. In fact it was not until he left school that he showed promise in Rugby. He went on to say humorously to all the boys that on his graduation day he was one of the ones sat towards the back of the tiers.
Stirling went on to describe how his coach at the very beginning of his career asked him to write down his goals, his ambitions, his intentions. This he did and he gave it to the coach. Stirling said this was a defining moment for him, he made a conscious decision not to wait by the side lines waiting to be discovered, that he would firmly take hold of every opportunity offered to him and not rely upon someone recognising his skills. He then went on to achieve greatly and some of these achievements were scoring over 1,000 points in Super Rugby and nearly 500 test points for the Wallies. He is a former captain for the Wallabies, Melbourne Rebels and Brumbies. Stirling travelled the world representing Australia and met the Queen and many dignitaries. Upon his retirement his old coach presented him with a framed copy of his original goals and intentions, all of which had exceeded all his own expectations. Not bad at all for a ‘late starter’.
“How would your life be different if…You pretended those around you were deaf to your words? Let today be the day…You let your actions speak and communicate your feelings and intentions.”
If we are lucky we will have people who guide us and inspire us in our lives. My son’s head of year was one of these people and his care and duty towards his students stands out and shines. He demonstrated what an inspirational teacher should be by guiding and encouraging all his students to develop their strengths to their best ability and saw the positive in whatever their individual skills were.
A good school will embrace and encourage all aspects of education and allow the individual student to develop whatever their abilities and to grow into well rounded people. My son was very lucky to attend such a school.
Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The exams are almost at an end and then it is the nail biting wait until the results. Whatever this year’s results bring be them excellent, good or not so good this is not the end, just the beginning. With this in mind I would like to leave you the quote my son’s head of year gave all of the boys.
‘Consult not your fears, but your hopes and your dreams.
Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfilled potential.
Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.’ Pope John XXIII
A baby was made, everything was right,
So the spirit within told him of his plight,
‘You can’t stay here for long’, he said
‘You must be born to the world’.
Now the baby tucked under his mother’s heart,
Felt warm and happy, did not wish to depart,
So, even when told of wonders ahead,
Refused to believe and was filled with dread.
The day came at last,
When he died from his world,
A new world to him was slowly unfurled,
Held in gentle arms he was loved and caressed,
With adoring parents blessed.
Then other people came, to greet, to admire,
To stay in this world became his desire.
So he grew up, as children do,
Passing into youth his excitement grew.
Soon he fell in love with it’s wonder and joy,
Man with woman, gone was the boy.
A home and children followed fast,
Sweetness of achievement found at last.
Through the years spirit tried to teach,
But he went at life with such hectic speed,
Of spirit teaching he paid no heed.
Soon he had grand-children playing around,
Then great grand-children,
But now he’s wearing a frown.
For once again that warning voice said,
‘You can’t stay long, you must move ahead’.
Unprepared he lived in fear,
Would not listen, refused to hear.
All he could think was. ‘I don’t want to die,
I just want to stay here’, was his cry.
But of course the day came,
When he died from his world.
A new world to him was slowly unfurled,
Once again by loved ones he was caressed,
With those passed before he was blessed.
Through smiles of happiness,
He remembered it being said,
Rebirth after rebirth, but never dead.
Author: Kitty Hird
Doing Nothing Is Doing Something
I receive regular reports from ‘Money Morning’, an Australian daily stock market news intelligence service which offers insight into World and Australian financial markets. You can register for free online up to the minute reports on world financial news. I do not have any stocks or shares but I do follow the opinions and predictions for the property market and it is good to have a different perspective on the money markets.
It was in one of their reports that I read ‘Doing nothing is doing something’ and these words resonated with me. A huge amount of people around the World today are suffering and confused due to the global economic climate. Countries are blaming other countries as well as propping them up in order to prevent further financial disaster and misery. Many have lost their homes, business’s, jobs, pensions and savings. It is a time of uncertainty, with many frightened and looking for some light at the end of the tunnel.
This has put a huge strain upon families and often when things seem to be going from bad to worse it is difficult to see a way forward. In some people’s case it may seem easier to do nothing, to not look too closely at the fine economic figures that are working our lives, to keep on somehow living the life we are but reducing the food bills, rugging up instead of heating our homes, cutting out luxuries etc. They are doing nothing and in turn doing something out of fear.
For some these measures will be enough but for others their circumstances may have changed so dramatically that these actions will never be enough to bring peace of mind and security. You will always get some righteous opinions that will smugly express how they have not over-stretched themselves, they have not got into debt and their pension plans or employment status has stayed the same. I would say to them sincerely well done and I am pleased you have had the discipline, good fortune and sense to not be in this situation. In many ways this blog may not be for you.
It is too easy to cast another heavy stone upon the people and countries who have not shown this good sense and do not have the financial acumen that others do. In the last century we have seen such levels of hedonistic materialism. We have been encouraged by governments, banks and retailers to believe we can have anything. In fact, we have been told we can have it all. Advised that we are all entitled to own our homes, the banks are prepared to loan us nine times our salary to grant us this and the governments will assist us by putting in place grants to ease the process along. We can then access loans to help with the cars we need to get us around and to complete the picture we can then apply for credit cards to pay for the necessary living items such as food, clothes and bills.
Of course it is foolish to take on all and anything that is available to us and many are paying the price for their foolishness. Just consider how many billions of dollars are poured into advertising campaigns with the sole intention of selling us a dream. A dream car, the dream kitchen, the dream swimming pool, the dream running shoes, clothes, skin care and the list goes on. So, just as there are many who are susceptible to the advertising campaigns designed to seep into our unconsciousness, there are also just as many who have bought into the big boy’s message that we can have it all and our lives will be incomplete without it.
The cost has been high, not only to the economic stability of the world but to the planet too. We have as a collective group of humans ignored the warnings that our beautiful planet has been giving us. Could this be a re-balancing of the greed and want over the last century? Very few people could have predicted what has happened but the warnings were there and only a few people were warning us about the consequences. The cost to ordinary people and their families is high, with most people working very hard day in and day out. Often the main carer for the family has to work in order to pay for it all, leaving families and relationships stretched and strained.
These dramatic changes in the world have led to an adjustment for many and people are re-evaluating their belief systems. Many are now seeing the benefit of a simpler life and are recognising the values of a past time. Even at the supermarkets I have noticed people, old and young, talking to each other and discussing how they are buying less or switching to the home brands in order to live more cheaply; there is a common bonding. People are ‘making do’ and being less wasteful. There is a definite shift towards a ‘back to basics’ lifestyle. This coincides with a renewed appreciation of our Mother Earth and respecting the values of old, using only what we need and seeking to replenish the world that houses us all.
In the meantime there are families that are truly in a terrible place with debt and just do not know what to do or who to turn to and need our help and compassion. When people experience the pressure and intense stress caused by not being able to meet their financial demands they are in need of good advice about consolidating their debt and what their next steps should be. We should all support each other in these times of austerity. If you or anyone you know needs financial advice, you can contact a government advisor:
For those who are feeling so overwhelmed and desperate Lifeline have trained counsellors who will listen and guide you:
Without a doubt the path ahead for individuals and countries is a hard road of working through some very difficult decisions and austerity measures. The important thing to remember is that doing nothing is in fact doing something, which can perpetuate your situation and keep you in the vicious cycle you are in.
“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”
Do we get the life we want or the one we choose?
I was re-watching a movie recently called ‘Click’ with Adam Sandler in. Although I do not usually watch movies more than once I have seen this one many times as it is a sad/funny family favourite. The gist of the story is that the character Michael Newman is a young husband and father who is struggling to succeed and achieve within his career and provide a good home and living for his family. He is also trying to be there to help his wife raise their children, his intentions are to be a good, interested and interactive Dad.
For Michael work is ever demanding and his desire to achieve both professional and family success is becoming increasingly compromised. He is offered an opportunity by a nice but eccentric man called Morty to freeze time when he has pressure either from the family or work, giving him the opportunity to complete his deadlines. The price is that it propels him forward into the future and he finds he is six months ahead, a year ahead, ten years ahead with his life literally passing him by. He is not at any point living in the present, in the now.
Of course the inevitable happens and he loses his wife to another man and his children are strangers to him, meanwhile he gets sicker and sadder with each click. Now I know this is meant to be a light movie but there is a much deeper meaning behind the silliness and humour. When Michael is on his premature deathbed he pleads with Morty who he now sees as the devil to stop all this, he says
‘But this is not the life I wanted’ to which Morty replies ‘But it is the life you chose’.
For the first time I really heard this message. How many of us believe we are living the life we want but have in reality made choices that have taken us in a completely different path.
I read the Alchemist many years ago written by Paulo Coelho the Brazilian author and found it deeply profound. The premise is similar to ‘Click’ as it is about someone who is searching for success, happiness, wealth and goes on a journey to find them. However, the difference is that the Alchemist lead character Santiago goes on a journey to many lands, experiences many cultures and develops a deeper understanding of himself before returning back to his homeland to find his true happiness and wealth were right there all along; he just didn’t know it at the time. Sadly the character Michael in Click only starts to realise at the end of his life what he has thrown away and sacrificed. That his choices took him away from the life he truly wanted to lead.
The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance;
the wise grows it under his feet.
James Oppenheim (1882-1932), USA
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and the true value of it is if we take the time to reflect and see that the choices we have made have led to where we are now. Some of our decisions and choices will be perfect and will give the satisfaction and reward we are hoping for. Other decisions may seem like the right thing at that time in our lives but we then discover they are not true to who we are or where we want to be. This does not necessarily mean they were bad or wrong decisions, it may well be that we have needed to walk that particular path in order to realise what we really want and who we really are.
‘Life can only be understood backwards,
But it must be lived forwards.’
Soren Kierkegaard (1813 – 1855), Denmark
Although we all need people around us who care and support us, who offer advice or an attentive ear, the answer often is within us. With reflection and true honesty we can listen to our inner wisdom. This does take practise but can be achieved in a variety of ways. A lot of people find Meditation transports them and gives them a deep inner calm and through this they can access their true self. Meditation is not going to tell you what to do, where to go or what to buy. Through stillness it will allow you to listen to your heart, what is really important to you and what is not, who you are and wish to be. Often the realisation may not be a great crashing revelation but a gentle understanding of what your next step will be towards the life you really wish to live.
For some achieving deep levels of stillness in meditation can take a long time. This is where therapies can help facilitate that deep level of calm and allow you to access peace and stillness. I know only too well as someone who has received and given Craniosacral Therapy and Reiki treatments how effective they are at bringing balance back to your system. No matter what trauma a person may have experienced within their lives these treatments work to release, balance and restore harmony. There is no need to analyse or re-visit the past experiences that have damaged us, through stillness we can reach a place of acceptance and move on with our lives.
‘Peace of mind is experienced when the stormy waves of the mind quell down’ – anon
It is hard to imagine the qualities that stillness can bring to our lives but once it has been experienced we appreciate the peace and wisdom it brings to us. I believe that once we have truly experienced tranquillity and stillness that it then becomes easier for us to reach that state of mind. Whether it is by having an energy treatment, meditation or taking a walk through nature, the means is totally individual.
The emotion that I hear so often from people who have received an energy treatment is one of gratitude. They are so grateful to feel released from whatever trauma has held them frozen. Grateful to feel that they can move on and look forward instead of being emotionally and physically pulled back by their past. The practitioner uses their skills to facilitate the stillness achieved within the system. During these times of stillness is when any healing, releasing or acceptance happens. This comes from the person themselves, it is their own wisdom and healing ability they are accessing. The practitioner’s work is to take someone where peace can be found and the system becomes quiet, allowing them to listen deeply and make choices that give them the life you want.
Peace be with you
The Olympic Torch
I visited the UK in May and was lucky enough to witness the arrival of the Olympic torch. It was so moving seeing the pride and honour expressed in the faces of the torch bearers. It made no difference whether it was an accomplished Olympian or the carefully chosen citizen, the joy radiated out for everyone to see and be a part of. You could feel the wave of national enthusiasm rising as the torch travelled from county to county.
The path of every athlete competing at the Olympics has without a doubt been a hard and arduous journey; an athlete’s life is one of total commitment, self-discipline and self-regulation. These men and women have competed nationally and globally within their fields, they are the elite and worthy of competing with the world’s best. Their commitment to excellence has elevated them above the average competitor; their determination to succeed demonstrates their strength of character.
However, it is often what they give back to their communities that has a more profound and lasting impact. The example that they set, the bar they raise and the encouragement they offer lives on long after they have competed. Their commitment to good causes often brings the most fulfilment.
‘Every kid around the world who plays soccer wants to be Pele. I have a great responsibility to show them not just how to be like a soccer player, but how to be like a man’.
Pele, Brazilian soccer player
This quote from Pele (arguably the greatest footballer ever in the world) shows how some athletes rise to the challenge and responsibility of not only showing excellence within their field but also leading by example of how to be in life.
A few years ago I attended a sports presentation evening with my son and husband where Nick Gillingham Olympic swimmer gave an inspirational talk. He described his own journey as a child swimmer competing week in, week out and doing well but never quite getting to the top. At the age of secondary school he felt demoralized and stopped competing, in fact stopped swimming altogether.
After a gap of a few years he was then asked by his sports teacher to compete for the school. At the competition were the same young men who had beaten him years previously and they were all there competing for their schools. With no expectations upon him and just the joy of swimming he amazed himself and others when he went on to win. This was his turning point, he decided to start training seriously and gradually over the next few years his love for swimming returned and as a now more mature young man his determination and dedication were unwavering.
Gradually he improved his time and was winning more and more competitions. He acknowledged if it was not for his sports teacher in high school he would never have taken up swimming competitively again and would never have achieved becoming a double Olympic medallist swimmer and former World, European and Commonwealth Champion.
In his speech Nick spoke to the sports teachers and told them to never underestimate what their encouragement and guidance could mean to a young person in need of direction. Nick has been European Champion on 3 successive occasions rewriting the history books in doing so. Winner of 17 Championship Medals gaining 3 World Records, 9 Commonwealth, 11 European and 17 British Records for his individual events.
What is further inspiring about Nick is that he now contributes actively in encouraging other young people in their sporting fields. He undertakes extensive mentoring work in education as well as the community for the Youth Sport Trust and Creating Excellence relating to behavioural change.
It is very inspiring to see examples of people who have risen to the highest level possible within their chosen field and yet never lose sight of how important it is to reach out to and inspire young people whatever their circumstances and wherever they maybe in the world.
For each celebrity there are thousands of common men and women among us that offer the same such encouragement and hope to their community. They contribute unconditionally and are often unrecognised heroes in life; the people who volunteer to take someone to hospital, take meals to neighbours, talking at the end of a phone to people who are desperate, volunteer in rescue situations, fundraise for charitable causes and many, many more.
When I worked within cancer care I witnessed so many people who at times had the worst prognosis and still worked with great determination to raise money and awareness. My sister-in-law was one of the most inspirational people I came across. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and liver cancer within a month of each other and yet went on to live for another eight years. She was one of the strongest and most ethical people I have ever come across.
Despite going through bouts of chemotherapy and radiotherapy many times (necessary to keep on doing what she wanted to) she raised money for cancer care with fun events such as sixties nights and a wig night and great fun was had by all! She also was acting Head and Deputy Head at a Secondary school and drove through recognition that gave the school increased status, funds and resources. As well she always cared for her immediate and extended family and their needs with total devotion.
Make her sound like a saint? Well, not really, like most of us in the family she liked a good glass (or several) of wine and she was strong minded which demonstrated her passions. Where there is a passion there is drive and where there is drive people make things happen. People who care enough about doing the right thing and care enough to change the world for the better, influence and encourage others to take the right path for them.
‘You can shed tears that she is gone,
or you can smile because she has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back,
or you can open your eyes and see all she’s left.
David Harkins (British Poet and Painter b. 1958)
It is obvious and well deserving why the Olympian torch bearers were chosen. It is not so obvious why ordinary members of the public have been chosen, but then there is a story behind every torch bearer. They have all stood out in some way for the community work, humanitarian work or charity work that they have been involved in for the good of others.
Often we are not aware of just how much kindness and generosity of spirit there is in the world until we find ourselves in difficult situations and our paths cross with these earthly angels. People who are going about their normal life, working hard, bringing up families, living with painful diseases, yet show the same determination and commitment as any elite athlete to causes that are important to them.
So when we see the pride with which the torch bearers carry the Olympic torch they represent all the unrecognised heroes among us nobly carrying their own torch of light.
‘We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give’
ANZAC DAY – Remembrance
April 25th in Australia, New Zealand and throughout the world is recognised as a day of remembrance for the ANZACS. It is a day in which all Australians take the time to recognise and reflect on the events of 25th April 1915 where Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed at dawn on Gallipoli, where they met with fierce resistance.
The campaign dragged on for eight months reaching a stalemate and by the end of 1915 the allied forces were evacuated, resulting in heavy casualties on both sides and the loss of over 8,000 Australian soldiers.
Due to the bravery, adversity and tragic loss shown in Gallipoli Australia remembered the sacrifice by marking 25th April as a day to nationally and internationally recognise what has become known as the ‘ANZAC legend’.
Anzac day has also become a day to honour and remember the war casualties from World War II and all service men and women who have since served to protect and sometimes die for their country.
Elsdon Best, a New Zealand writer and poet, wrote these words on the death of his friend Paul Freyberg (brother of Sir Bernard Freyberg, V.C.). Paul was mortally wounded while fighting at Basseville, France, in 1917. (Basseville is 10 miles south of Ypres)
Today the lonely winds are loose
And crying goes the rain.
While here we walk the field they knew
The dead who died in pain.
The fields that wait the slow hours long
For sounds that shall not come.
In other fields, in other earth
The laughing hearts are dumb.
There is a thread linking us all around the world, whatever our belief system is, whatever our background. The casualties of any war are far reaching, when our soldiers go forward in the name of their country they are someone’s son, daughter, husband, wife, father, mother, sister, brother, nephew or niece. Even if it is not a family member serving in the name of our nation’s freedom and safety it will be a friend’s.
I was in the UK when the then Labour Government joined America in its decision against the recommendation from the United Nations to declare war on Iraq and to invade. There was national indignation and protests at this decision, there were mass marches around the country and much political opposition to this. Ordinary people as well as political figureheads stood their ground and angrily declared this to be wrong with too little evidence of ‘hidden weapons’ to warrant an invasion and in turn a war.
So far there has never been the evidence and only time will show if this was the right thing to do or not. Despite the overwhelming national disapproval of this war once our men and women were deployed for war the country got behind the troops and fully supported and acknowledged their bravery and courage.
The men and women who choose their careers within the forces and loyally defend their countries for the right to safety and freedom do not have the choice where they go and who they fight. They are part of a game that big boys play.
Many years ago in the UK I was asked to do baby massage courses on British Army Camps. One of the courses I ran was with very young mothers, often still in their late teens and away from the home network of extended family help and advice. Within the group there were several fathers who were stationed overseas in war situations and some had not even seen their newborn child yet. The intention of the course was not only to give the wonderful benefits of baby massage but to provide extra support and bonding for these young woman in this difficult situation. I have to say that I received so much pleasure from meeting this group and I was so impressed by what resourceful and wonderful parents they were.
What it did highlight was how hard the life can be not only for servicemen and woman but for the family as well.
I have two nephews in the forces that have now both been on active tour to Afghanistan several times. The time they are out there is for up to six months and that means six months without seeing their wives, their children’s milestones and missing family occasions. Both love their career and are fabulous husbands and fathers when they return.
When we take the time to show our respect and gratitude to the men and women in active service we should also reflect upon the support network behind them who are living through every day of their active tour. The grandparents, parents, wives, husbands and children who send parcels, letters and emails filled with love, willing them home safely.
The war in Afghanistan is now reported to be coming to an end with the promise of Australian, British and American troops being gradually withdrawn. It will be a relief for many families to get their loved one’s home. The casualties so far has been so high not just for our troops but for the Afghan people too.
I recently read a wonderful book on Afghanistan called ‘The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul’ by Deborah Rodriguez. It is a work of fiction, however it was based upon the author’s experience of her coffee shop in Afghanistan and life there. I would highly recommend this as an educational read. The story portrayed the cultural differences and complexities of life in Afghanistan. It weaves a colourful image of what life must be like for many men, woman and children (especially the woman and children) living within this aggressively fought over country and how their beliefs are continually challenged and undermined.
By the end of this book I was left with a different attitude about Afghanistan and deeper understanding of life there. It is too easy for us to dismiss a country that we associate with many terrible deaths and destruction. With the return of our troops it would be easy to draw a line under Afghanistan without making any effort to also recognise the innocents caught up in yet another war.
I send my upmost respect to all the servicemen, women and families who serve in the name of their country and my empathy to all innocent civilians in foreign lands caught up in war conflicts.
When the rich wage war, it is the poor who die.
JEAN-PAUL SARTRE, The Devil and the Good Lord
The F Word
Recently I went to the ‘F WORD’ at the Sydney Opera House. It was held a few days before International Women’s Day and the guest speakers were Germaine Greer, Naomi Wolf, Eliza Griswold and Clem Bastow.
My daughter suggested it and I have to admit I would not have thought to go on my own, but it sounded like an interesting day and I love Germaine Greer. Love her, hate her or be plain indifferent to her but she is such an intelligent woman who can be controversial and always gets everyone thinking and discussing often quite taboo subjects.
I have to say I have never been anywhere that was so dominated by women and within the breaks the stimulating hum of conversation and gentle energy around the Opera House was wonderful to be a part of. Each show was a full house and it was interesting to see the age range. From what I could see there were Grandmothers, Mothers, Daughters, Friends and the rare man who had courageously come along with a partner. I will say courageously because as woman we are often competing in male dominated fields and as we know it does take courage to step into an outnumbered arena.
Germaine Greer asked us ‘what does it mean to be a Feminist?’ In the past the feminist movement has had certain connotations. Some may have thought that to be a feminist you must be anti-men, gay, politically motivated and much more. Well that will apply to some women out there, but there are also lots of women who class themselves as feminist and love men, are heterosexual and are not particularly political.
A young woman (probably about 20 years of age) stood up in the audience and asked the panel how could she describe feminism and what it means to her. The answers were interesting and once again provoked thought. Germaine said that although the feminist movement has been going from the beginning of last century it is still in its infancy and is changing shape all the time due to the ever evolving world and societies we live in. She encouraged woman to be proactive with their discussions to work out our own definitions, as it will be a different answer for each of us.
Naomi was all for woman in general taking control of their own voices and not always waiting for others to make a stand or a statement. If we see injustices and feel strongly about what is happening in our home town or globally then get involved in whatever small way; we are all responsible for raising awareness.
This means we as woman have to keep thinking about what is important to us. The question made me think carefully about my role as a Mother, have I shown a good example to my daughters? It also made me think about what I believe feminism is. What is my definition?
During my school years I went to a single sex school and while it was a mainly happy time there it did raise some questions. As I got older I became friends with a group of boys from a local boy’s school. What I did notice was the almost unconditional solidarity between the boys. Even at the age of 15 and 16 these young men were not malicious towards each other. They did fight of course, they would tease each other, laugh at each other, at times throw hard objects at each other (very alien to us girls) but it would have to be a major event to fall out permanently or ostracize a member of the group. By comparison the girl’s environment was quite different. We were judgmental of each other, criticism and analysis of how we looked, clothes, make up were the norm. It took very little for someone to be offended and in turn to find yourself cast out into a cool silence of disapproval.
Within my early working life I found developing from young teenager into adulthood no different and was always amazed how condemned a woman was for not conforming to the expectations of society. It always surprised me how women could forgive a man for infidelity but choose never to speak to a very good friend again for the same weakness. I have seen women withdraw from another woman because she cannot cope with the stresses of life but in the same breath offer support, homemade food and a shoulder for a man who is not coping well with life’s demands.
As I have moved into my middle years in life I am happy to report that suddenly I observed a sense of sisterhood. Suddenly I found women who had been through the rigours of life, relationships, children, teenagers (aarrgghhh), ageing parents and there it was. We suddenly got it! Unconditional solidarity.
Instead of righteous condemnation there was now an acceptance of how hard life can be and the recognition that we can and do get it wrong at times. With carefully chosen friends around us, women who reflect our own beliefs and way of life we can get it wrong and still have friendship.
Quite a few years ago I joined a Women’s business networking group. This was a wonderful experience and many of the women trained as mentors, including myself. We helped other women just starting out, often women who were for the first time ever branching out into a career and lacking in confidence. The scheme was very effective, women were paired up from very different backgrounds and business’s so there was no conflict of interest. The meetings were stimulating, supportive and full of unconditional solidarity. I know I valued this varied group of women and so did many others.
So the F word for me is about Female Friendship. Helping each other wherever we can; offering advice within a career pathway, looking out for each other and acknowledging the problems and hurdles that we face whatever path we choose. There may not be a deep long friendship on offer but a brain storming session could make all the difference in another woman’s life. Offering to take each other’s child when times are difficult or just being there to listen.
Especially being there to listen.
“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
- Mother Teresa
What road are you travelling?
Sound familiar? Well most of us have heard of ‘The Road Less Travelled’ poem by Robert Frost, but not all will have read it. Some will have an insight into the concept and others out there will have read it; got it and lived by it.
“If we know exactly where we’re going, exactly how to get there, and exactly what we’ll see along the way, we won’t learn anything. ” ― M. Scott Peck
Within my life I have been fortunate to grow up with mavericks; to be influenced and meet true visionaries; people who aspire to the unconventional way of life, dare to push boundaries and dream big.
The gift this has given me is to remove invisible constraints and boundaries set by conventional thinking. We all know, live with or are influenced by people who live firmly within the invisible but clearly defined guidelines of life. People who would tell us that our dreams and aspirations are impossible; that our way of life is wrong, that we cannot make a living out of our choices therefore pick something safer with a clearer pathway.
I would like to say I have never fallen into this way of thinking, but of course at times I have! It takes courage to take that first step into the unknown and start creating a new path, one that has not been well paved before us. As a parent I constantly walk the fine line of free thinking and wanting to encourage the safer more stable path.
The question is, why? Well, I believe it comes down to fear and when it comes to our children we want to protect them and for them to experience the best in life. To find their path in life without the criticism and cynicism we may have encountered.
How many people do we know who bitterly regret having never given it a shot at their dreams? Whether it was being an athlete; a singer, a baker, a teacher, a doctor, a yoga instructor or a complementary therapist.
Of course it depends on where we start in life as to how big that dream is. If your background has been one starved of expectations the bridge between your dreams and destination become a chasm. In environments where there is little or no belief in you then the biggest hurdle will always be to believe in yourself first. The important thing is to look for like-minded people, to surround yourself with positive minds and avoid at all cost the ‘can nots’ and ‘should nots’. They do not and probably never will share your vision and courage. It takes very little effort to shoot down in flames another’s aspiration; just negativity and a closed mind.
The reality is you may not reach your dream destination. Maybe you were never meant to. Have the courage and faith to start on the path to your dreams; your journey begins with that first step. If you never make the effort you will never reach your goal. Along your path you will experience other aspects of your dreams, some that you never even knew about or considered. You will continue to grow and develop and these will direct you to other avenues and eventually the path that is right for you.
Choosing to walk a different road to others may be more about your life style choices. In all walks of life there are prejudices and labelling, with others only too ready to condemn and make righteous judgements. Life can be hard and at times complicated, so if we fall in love and want to spend the rest of our lives with someone from a completely different background and beliefs to our own we need courage. Great courage is needed to step out and be proud to be gay; to fight against ignorance. To fight injustices and for what we believe in. It takes courage to be the person our heart knows we are; to ask and expect acceptance in our chosen path.
“Life is complex. Each one of us must make his own path through life. There are no self-help manuals, no formulas, no easy answers. The right road for one is the wrong road for another…The journey of life is not paved in blacktop; it is not brightly lit, and it has no road signs. It is a rocky path through the wilderness. ” ― M. Scott Peck
What a great quote and even if we are not driven with a great vision of our own we should accept there is no right or wrong way to go through life. We should work on ourselves to not pre-judge people or dismiss their way of life through ignorance and fear.
Open your heart and your mind.
’Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.’ ― Sir Winston Churchill
Do you value yourself?
‘A person’s worth in this world is estimated according to the value they put on themselves’
Jean de la Bruyere (1645-1696)
How many of us really question the value of our individual personal growth?
In today’s world, which is increasingly faster and busier than ever before, there is a market value on many things, including our time; our homes, cars, holidays and people. We are all out there trying to carve our way through life hoping to gain financial reward, security, happiness, fulfilment, acknowledgment and many more things. Some will throw themselves willingly into the fast track of life and careers, while there are others desperately trying to get off the fast track of life because the pressure is too much but they have too many commitments to be able to take the option.
Many years ago a very good friend of mine had a nervous breakdown due to business pressure which led to relationship pressure. In his case the power of choice was taken away from him. His business failed and so did his marriage which led to the collapse of body and mind. Fortunately he had a loving family and good friends around to cradle him while recovery could take place. The process was slow, taking years and when he was ready to re-enter the world he found the prospect daunting. This was put into perspective for me when he said ‘I just wish someone could stop the world and let me back on again’. Happily he did get back on and went onto a balanced and fulfilled life.
At what point does our way of life and our paths become too costly to our personal and spiritual growth? Well of course this varies dramatically from one person to another. There are some people who are very good at creating a space within the demands of their busy life to find calmness and stillness to allow the mind and body to grow and I commend them for that.
For many however the story is different and it is usually due to the breakdown of our health, mind or relationships that we start to put a value on our own personal growth. There will always be a valid list of reasons for not putting yourself first, I know because I have used them myself. Your life is either just too busy; career too consuming, your family demands so much of you, the monthly budget does not extend enough, you are so tired you can’t do anything else but sleep when you have spare time……… and the list goes on. Of course all of these points are very valid but does it really need a life changing event for you to consider looking after yourself?
Many years ago I trained in Craniosacral Therapy and found the course and therapy itself truly amazing. Setting this aside, what was profoundly changing for me was the fact that as part of the training I had to keep a diary which showed clearly where within my week I made time for my own spiritual and physical well-being. Although I had been a Complementary therapist for over a decade and understood the whole ‘mind, body, spirit’ cycle vital to our health and vitality, I still did not make time for myself (all of the above excuses I could trot off easily for the reasons not to make time for me.) In all honesty I resented being pinned down. After all I was working, travelling long distances to do the Craniosacral training, studying, looking after the family…… and yes you get the picture. As I am by nature an honest person I really could not lie about something I was not doing, so this forced me to find the time for my personal growth. I started a Pilates class weekly and arranged a fortnightly therapy exchange with other therapists (yes, this is a big benefit of working in therapies) and started to give myself regular Reiki treatments.
In reality this really was not much time out of my week but after a few weeks the changes within me were amazing. I felt calmer, more in control, I had more vitality and most importantly I noticed an enormous difference whilst giving treatments to clients. As I was connecting more with my inner self I found that I was achieving a sense of stillness sooner and more deeply, allowing me to give much more effective treatments to others.
This is something within us all and can be accessed by everyone.
Take some time to truly look at your week, take the time to think about what you would like to do. Instead of coming up with reasons why you can’t do exercise, meditation or relaxation, make a list of what you can do and where you can do it and how to do it.
‘Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours!’ Richard Bach (b. 1936)
If financial pressure is the main restriction then there are meditation classes around that ask for a donation and meditation cd’s are a one off investment. We are surrounded by beautiful walkways which are a great way to connect with nature and cycle paths have been introduced in most suburbs. Take up fishing. Look at Natural Therapy Training Centres where you can access greatly reduced treatments with students.
I hope I have given you food for thought and would like to leave you with this final quote -
The human body, at peace with itself,
is more precious than the rarest gem.
Cherish your body, it is yours this one time only.
The human form is won with great difficulty,
it is easy to lose.
All worldly things are brief, like lightning in the sky;
This life you must know as the tiny splash of a
a thing of beauty that disappears even as it comes
Therefore set your goal,
Make use of every day and night to achieve it.
The first day of a new year and it seems fitting for it to be the first blog I write. I have reflected over the last month about writing a blog; ‘what do I write’, ‘how do I start’, ‘do I have anything of interest to offer’?
I have spent time mulling over; ‘should it be political’? God knows there is enough to discuss what with ever decreasing financial stability; people all around the world hurting badly from debt and loss of work; anger over carbon tax; so called experts declaring property prices going up, going down and here we go but going up again.
Then there are the moral issues that make people resentful, angry or left with feelings of despair. Wars around the world; the terrible loss of lives; refugees; boat people, cultural diversities, starvation within nations all creating reactions ranging from indifference; anger, hatred and fear.
Well, it is the last emotion above that struck a chord with me ‘Fear’. I have put off writing partly from fear; the fear of getting it wrong, being judged, what to write. The world is changing rapidly, economically and culturally. At the heart of all this change is ‘Fear’, you can feel it and hear it all around you. Fear can paralyse our other emotions; stunting creative thought, robbing us of courage and preventing us from listening to our inner wisdom, our inner voice and trusting in ourselves.
Leading a more spiritual life does not mean all of the above does not touch you; it does not mean you are above being challenged in your beliefs. It will not stop us being touched by loss, ill health or challenge our needs and wants.
What it does mean however is that we start to build up a trust in our own abilities. Although developing our spiritual path can at times prove equally rewarding and challenging we are building skills that allow us to listen to our inner wisdom. Some may have an in-built awareness of listening to their inner wisdom, they may well be naturally more developed in finding that elusive ‘Stillness’ that allows us to be in touch with ourselves.
Most of us however need help, so we find people who facilitate us experiencing a sense of stillness, allowing us to be in touch with ourselves. This could be a Yoga teacher, a Reiki practitioner, Meditation, or some form of Complementary therapy.
For the newcomer to this concept of experiencing ‘Stillness’ you may well wonder what all the fuss is about. Experiencing a sense of stillness allows us to be in a truly meditative state where you connect with yourself at a very deep level. There is a oneness with whatever you perceive; an acceptance where you can let stillness direct your words and actions.
Stillness allows us wisdom to direct our words and actions. What do we have to do?
It allows emotions such as ‘fear’, ‘anger’, ‘resentment’ and many more to dissipate. This could be by reaching a deep level of acceptance. By recognising the negative emotions that hold our body and mind in a state of paralysis we then allow through stillness the release of these emotions.
We can be defined by thoughts and beliefs of our past and these can imprison us.
‘Most people spend their entire life imprisoned within the confines of their own thoughts. They never go beyond a narrow, mind-made, personalized sense of self that is conditioned by the past’ Eckhart Tolle
Achieving stillness leads to personal growth and acceptance which allows us to move on in our lives; it allows us to be in the present, in the now and not held prisoner by past experiences and beliefs. This shifts our perspectives and leads us into a willingness to accept what is instead of fighting against it all the time.
This is a lifetime path in self-development which once we embark on it is so rewarding. Even people who teach and practise within energy work will work continually upon their own energy levels seeking guidance and inspiration. We are all responsible for our own issues and the energy we put into the world.
Start your spiritual path now, look for people or classes that speak to you and allow you to experience a sense of stillness. It is a long journey but worth taking the first step.
Wishing you a fulfilling 2012.