Let’s play Spot the Elephant!

If you are foolish enough to be contented, don’t show it, but grumble with the rest – Jerome K Jerome

Elephant in the room 3

 

This image is courtesy of David Blackwell.

This quote speaks to me today because I have witnessed it in a couple of different ways this week. Yesterday at work I wrote an email to a colleague pointing out a mistake in a description in one of our products on the computer. They call me the ‘spelling Nazi‘ at work – sorry if I offend anyone by that term, I seem to hear it more and more these days, and yes I have had typos in my blogs and grammatical errors from time to time.

Anyway, I sometimes feel like I am the messenger that might be shot if I speak up with family and at work, unless I am being asked to proofread, which I often am at work, quite unrelated to my actual role. This lovely colleague admitted that she feels like that also, constantly pointing out errors to our head office overseas as they are the only ones who can fix them for us. It would be so much easier to ignore things. No can of worms to open. No risk. But I can’t. I suspect I irritate people, or maybe I just notice the looks on their faces and imagine things which aren’t there. (Back to the best ever quote; ‘We see things are we are, not as they are’ – Anais Nin).

Anyway I digress. There are times we need to go along with the grumblers, even though sometimes we know that they are not actually unhappy or grumbling themselves but ‘playing the game’. We pretend that there is such a thing as sod’s law and have not named the opposite, which I shall call Emma’s Law – where lots of awesome things fall into our laps without trying, such as being able to click on a link and people working away behind the scenes to find cures for things, design new things, share out of the goodness of their heart, share knowledge free on the internet, blog etc. Why don’t people want to bond over the good stuff? For the record, bread does not always fall buttered side down, it just rotates due to the laws of physics and depending on the height from which it was dropped, it will always land a certain way.

Off track again. Just now on my morning run a stranger passed and we smiled. I said ‘Lovely temperature’ and he said he found it cold. I said he’d better move faster then, and off we went. No grumbling for me.

Do you often see the elephant in the room?

Elephant in the room 2

Do you stand up for causes? I thought I didn’t.  You will not find me marching for anything! And yet I realise I do speak up, a lot. Perhaps more now that I am older and care less what others think. Obviously I don’t want to lose my job and I must feel safe enough to open my mouth (see this link for a brilliant Summary of the book Crucial Conversations) but I seem to do so more and more. I thank those that make me feel safe for doing so.

So who do we feel safe to share our contentment with? Our loved ones, best friends, strangers? How wide is your circle of contentment? We all know who is more likely to favour a shared bonding grumble with us, than a Pollyanna chat. I think some people draw the bad stuff out of me, because I know they will thoroughly enjoy a gossip or complaint about yet another stuff up by whoever. I feel disappointed in myself when I cave.

Oops, I seem to be contradicting myself here. Do I or don’t I want to point out the things I see? By writing this post I realise (and that was the point of starting this blog, to learn by exploring the words of the ‘Masters’) that the ‘grumbling’ or pointing out what’s wrong, should only be directed, politely and objectively, at those who can fix it. Otherwise, keep it to yourself!

No grumbling

I know nothing so why are you reading? :)

Pink apples

You don’t get good apples from a bad tree – George Repnin

I know the saying ‘The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’ in which the children are assumed to be very like their parents. But I disagree with that one. The ‘sins of the parents’ could be exactly what drives a child to be different in their lives, ‘better’, in the important ways at least.

So by this quote, I am understanding that when your mind is not right, it is not fruitful and the results of your efforts are not good apples.

Do you know how you will behave in a certain situation? Would you be a hero or a coward in a life or death situation, risking everything? I’d like to think I would be the hero. I am impulsive enough and negligent of consequences most times so I don’t see why that would be any different. But who really knows?

I have been mindful of my own behaviours. I would like to think I know myself. I know that when faced with an array of cakes and desserts on offer, I am completely unlikely to avoid them, no matter how strict my ‘diet’.

is that cake

I know that when I am really happy (in love) I eat what I like (think sugar and carbs) and put on weight. When I am bored or discontent with my life, I battle with my conscience and yet still eat all those wickednesses that I have stashed away in my bedroom that I should be avoiding, let alone buying and squirreling away.

long romantic walks to the fridge

I also know that when I am really stressed, the weight falls off ridiculously fast as I lose my appetite and the term ‘comfort food’ suddenly doesn’t apply.

I am seeking clues at the moment to this happiness thing. (All good today, by the way, just deep in thought). I have started a list of what has managed to lift my spirits in the past when I am inexplicably unhappy. This list differs for everyone, in the same way that different diets work for different people. I keep my happiness list on the noticeboard in my bedroom.

When I am a ‘bad’ tree of course, the items on that list don’t seem to work to cheer me up, much as they might have done another time. Things such as tidying or cleaning. Or reading, or doing logic puzzles. In fact the more I sloth with magazines and brain teasers, the worse I feel but am unable to stop. It’s a bit like the child that is abused by the parent goes to that very same parent looking for consolation! Don’t we weave complicated relationships in our lives – with people, food, activities?

Do you know how these relationships function for you? How you are likely to react to events, temptations, people, discord? Do you have a family history of sweeping things under the carpet and continuing cordial relationships as if the ‘abuse’ never happened? That works well in one of my relationships, if you can call it a relationship.

Anyway I digress. My point today is that it really is the quality of your mood that defines how fruitful (in terms of happiness) your day will be. That seems like tautology, if I am using the right term. SO obvious. Your mood defines your happiness, duh Emma. What I mean is that how the tree is being treated, with love and fertiliser, doesn’t always make a difference to how the apples turn out. I certainly don’t blame every parent of a serial killer. And how you treat yourself, doing things you love and look forward to, doesn’t always bear fruit if your tree is bad that day. I think depression is defined by no longer enjoying that which you used to.

So I will keep looking for the fertilisers for my tree. I will resist trying to fell it also. It’s enjoyable and satisfying to my ego to think I am getting somewhere permanent. In fact that’s what gave me the courage to even blog. I figured that I had a lot ‘sorted’. But the wise man knows he knows nothing! And the more you learn, the more you realise you don’t know.

Why did I blog today? No clue. Do I feel I have any wisdom to impart? Not really, only questions to ponder. But that doesn’t matter because

Knowledge can be communicated but not wisdom – Hermann Hesse

 

Why don’t you?

DCIM121MEDIA

A house is a machine for living – Buckminster Fuller

Bucky, if I can call him that has a point here. A house is a machine with parts that are connected and hopefully relate to one another, with fuel that is added to it so that it may fulfil its function of being of service to people. Or are we the fuel? I guess we are ‘inputted’ into our homes and hopefully leave it calmer, fed, organised and ready for the big world again.

But what kind of machine do you imagine this house to be? What do the jolly colours imply; about the people who live here, what could be inside, where it is and how happy they are?

For to me this is nothing but a happy house, with jolly people, crazy goings on, holiday type living and much laughter. I would like to paint my house like this. Seriously!! But why don’t I? Why don’t you?

At age 18 I went to Bali, Indonesia for 2 months and was so taken with the colourful clothing that everyone wore. I brought many items home with me to wear in London and give to friends but the clothing really looked so out of place.  I think I may have worn something twice and that’s all, but only because I lost my nerve, not because it wouldn’t have been great to wear, I now realise.

Obviously if I lived here:

Colourful Mexico

I would have whipped up a suitable palette for my home in a heartbeat. But I don’t live in Guanajuato, Mexico 😦 and I haven’t yet had the nerve to even fill my living room with all things pink, orange and tropical lime, this Summer, like I planned, let alone repaint my outside walls and stairs.

I even have an outside wooden staircase I am soon to paint and as it’s my home I can do what I darn like, yet I will probably stick with the pale grey/green ubiquitous in Australia as reminiscent of the gums. BORING!! Or will I? Watch this space. I just went and had another look at it and am beginning to imagine the staircase above…

So why don’t I really do what I think I want? Why don’t you? Am I afraid of being too happy every time I come home and see the jolly colours? I made a similarly colourful large butterfly collage recently and I smile every time I see it on the wall facing my bed. It’s proof that colour changes your mood. I even studied colour for a whole year just to prove it!

Am I worried that others will think I’m a lunatic if I do the whole house? It hasn’t bothered me so far. I look forward to being the eccentric old lady, but perhaps I don’t ‘look old enough’ yet to think I can get away with it.

So for now my home remains neutral, pretty monochromatic and peaceful inside, all pastels and cream, interrupted only by the brights on the walls in the form of paintings, and flowering plants along a windowsill. They are hints at the colourful past I’ve had and even more exotic thoughts I entertain.

But if you ever hear of a dastardly delicious multicoloured house such as the one above, nestled near a national park, about 45 minutes from Sydney, you will know I have gathered my courage and come alive; as vibrant as the colours themselves.

And I will be inside with a ridiculous grin on my face, being wickedly creative day and night and eating these for breakfast every day with hazelnut coffee, living the life I was born to lead, irreverent and happy, childishly so!

Brownies kebabs

So that’s my Happy Life but what about you? Are there any colours you long for, things you wish you would dare to do, or could your ‘machine’ possibly be running on empty these days?

 

I dare ya!

Skull oil lamp

How do we keep our blogs burning? I spend a lot of time on the blogging world because I read every post of every blog I follow and there are quite a few. Something I have noticed though is that many I am drawn to started within a few months of when I started. Do we have the same level of freshness/enthusiasm/naiveté? Are we on this journey together and how fast do each of us travel? Some have exponential growth in followers, and some none at all. One has only written two posts but I wait with baited breath for the third. Others have years of archives I long to explore.

The other thing I noticed is that some people appear to have stopped writing their blog. I follow a few diet type blogs because my other blog is helping me lose a little weight. What happened to those people who stopped? The last post of one implies that he has fallen off the wagon and started to eat unhealthily again. What are the consequences of stopping a questioning, feel-good type blog like I hope this one is? Could it be that I have become depressed and have nothing in my oil lamp to keep it burning? Would you continue to follow after a year if I didn’t post?

Perhaps I am drawn to the kind of blogs where the humble writers don’t have all the answers and are seeking them, or maybe that describes all of mankind, in some way or another. I have a passing interest in non soul searching blogs such as how to be a blogger and the latest trends and photography. I satisfy my curiosity for the new on Pinterest more now also. But there is no connection there except where the blogger posts comments on my posts and I feel I know them and care about them as people. The information only blogs only attract my attention sporadically. This is why it’s called social media I expect!

So back to you, my wonderful blogging friends. What does your oil consist of? How are you today? How does your mood affect whether you blog or not? Do you take the time to keep putting oil in the lamp, however you enrich your soul, enough to dare to blog? For it is a dare, really, a great act of courage to say anything at all and hit publish. I have looked back at some of my past posts and think ‘what rubbish!’ but the point is the confidence with which we write, not what we actually say. The confidence to hope that one other soul (or our own soul) gets some benefit from it. I applaud every post I have written, rubbish or otherwise and all of yours! You did it!  The lights are on!

Light bulb lamp

Just some random thoughts from a scrambled egg mind. I didn’t think I’d blog today….

You made me jump!

Snake tongue

Two weeks ago I had a rush of energy and decided after work to clear the branches that were scratching my car along my driveway. You know how a five minute job stretches to over an hour? As I was clearing everything in sight I saw this large worm disappear into the ground and thought nothing of it. My housemate came back while I was in the middle of this job and I cleared as much as I could so that she could drive past. The next morning on my run though, I found the ‘large worm’ squashed and dead on my driveway so it must have gotten closer to me than I thought. And it was a 45cm snake, of some venomous description apparently.

So now when I run down my 100 metre driveway each morning, I get the heebeegeebees. I am not particularly afraid of snakes for some reason, or of anything that doesn’t sneak up on me, really and that’s good because there are lots of nasties here in Sydney. In fact a bull ant or leech on me will probably spike my adrenalin more than anything deadly because I’ve felt the effects.  But now I am sensitive for no real reason and it’s affecting part of my morning exercise.

Give it a couple more weeks and I won’t even think about what lurks on my property any more, much less have a physical reaction. I was triggered by my snake encounter so I pay more attention to the rustling in the undergrowth now but after a while it won’t be a trigger anymore.

Similarly, a friend’s recent burglary shot a little fear into me for a while there and I was careful to hide my valuables. It passes and we get complacent. And typing up interviews about pedestrian deaths as a job a few years ago has made me more careful crossing the road, but only to a certain point now.

So how is our day to day life affected? What’s top of mind and how do we neutralise all those fears that come and go? There are a million things to stress about, if we want to go looking for them.

For me, some hazards, like the snake, come and find me but the rest I choose to avoid. It’s too easy to get trapped into thinking the world is a terrible place by following the news regularly. So I don’t.

I did read instead a lovely blog this week with a little story about how a mother told their child that when watching disaster stories on the news, to always look for the helpers in each situation, because there are always helpers. I’m sorry I forget which blog or post I found that in, but I am so grateful someone shared that and it surely will neutralise rather raise my fear level.

So now I am curious to look for both fear triggers in my life however small and consequently for the ‘helpers’ that alleviate the disquiet in whatever form they take – a quote, a blog, people, police presence, human kindness. And you can bet which one I will be focussing on. Are you aware of the ‘helpers’ in your life and do they outnumber the triggers?

In no time, if someone shouts ‘Snake’, this is the only kind I want to be be thinking of. 🙂

Snake tie

 

FInally found the reblog button 🙂

She's Losing It!

This is the storyof Kayln Blacklock; her life will inspire you – click here:  Chiari Warrior.

Since days ago, a lot has happened.  Her story has been re-blogged and shared on Facebook and Twitter and the interview about her incredible journey received over 2,500 hits.  ABC-TV and FOX News are pitching her story to air on TV.  I’ve nominated her to become a CNN Hero.

Nine (9) months ago she was in a wheelchair from Chiari Malformation, a rare disease where the brain seeps into the spinal chord*.  After two brain surgeries to treat the disease she got cancer.  Today she is not only walking, but ran the Tough Mudder Race 5 days after chemo and is currently training for a bodybuilding competition.  She has three years to live.

She means to live.

This is part II of my interview with her in my car outside Metroflex…

View original post 1,340 more words

What tips your scales?

Do Something You've Never DoneDon’t good quotes get you thinking? It’s like armchair travelling, only it’s exploring who you and and what you believe, inside your head! The most important frontier.

This quote no doubt means different things to different people. Something I’ve never had is a raise, a promotion or a professional income. If I needed these, what would I have to do that I have never done? Ask for a pay rise, go for a promotion, or apply for a more conscientious job which might keep me awake at night?

But the price is too high for me, too far out of my comfort zone. I can’t imagine being paid real money. I’d feel like a fraud for sure. Then I’d have to commit to being worth that money every day, even on my uninspired days or days when I look at workaholics who take it all so seriously and think they must be crazy to sacrifice peace of mind for dollars. I take my work in customer service seriously but never so seriously that it wakes me up at night.

Perhaps it comes down to being someone you have never been in order to do something you have never done, in order to get something you have never had. So who should I be?

Real and Imagined

Shall I imagine I am being paid to do what I love, without any commitment, and that it easily covers my bills and then some? Shall I imagine I can take off for long weekends to Fiji regularly or fly the kids to Barcelona or Zanzibar without any stress at all and spend an income I am not used to? Shall I believe I deserve all that stuff?

Perhaps if I really covet these things enough, I will ‘do something I’ve never done’. I’d like to think it will happen and when I’ve read the latest self-help book and am bouncing off walls, dreams become worth chasing and not only a possibility but a done deal in my mind. I am brilliant, I have developed myself, I have everything I ever dreamed of.

Until I calm down again and realise how grateful I am for all I already have, without needing one more thing in order to be happy.

When I come across that elusive thing to do which will yield me that which I have never had, I shall let you know.

Do you know what you ‘need’ to do in order to receive that something that you’ve never had? And do you want things you’ve never had, enough to be someone different? Just a thought!  I guess it’s all a question of balance. 🙂

Balance

Don’t Call Me, I’ll Call You

One True Friend

In the last couple of weeks, I ran into two people with whom I used to be quite close. One I worked with for a year and a half in a miserable office, run by a miserable man and we found solace in each other. I did anyway. The other was going through something I was going through, for a while there, as well as both of us bringing up three small kids. Both Melinda and Tracey decided to stop calling me for whatever their reasons, amongst many other people in my life. It has long since stopped bothering me. In fact it’s a good thing.

It was brilliant to see them and catch up. I had about ten minutes with each and we all asked the kind of questions that involve summaries, not details, because you both kind of know that you need to cover the big stuff (after about 4 years of not seeing each of them) because you won’t be talking again any time soon. I was so happy to talk to them and hear their news. I am so fond of both of them and my warm hugs for them were genuine.

What made me smile was the ease with which I said goodbye but how they both said ‘We must do coffee/catch up again soon’. I just smiled at them. I wonder if they felt they needed to say that, to make the parting easier, or if there was any guilt on their part. I hope not, because that’s not who I am any more. I’m OK with me, so I am not offended and I hope that if I stop calling someone, because I like my freedom, it doesn’t register for them either. We are all drawn together and apart, depending on the current circumstances and I can still ‘love’ all those people I was once close to, for who they are, without needing to make conversation regularly. They have all touched me, all changed me in some way and left fond memories and understanding about different people. I hope I have done the same for them.

There are so many other awesome people out there waiting to meet me, and I them. Brief encounters are fantastic and I don’t feel the need to hang on to every person like I did when I was younger. You should have seen my Christmas Card list before I stopped sending them!

And who are my true friends? Everyone, all of them. How long does it take to make a connection and appreciate another soul? Sure, I have friends I have known since school, who live on the other side of the world, and we may keep in touch once a year, or occasionally through Facebook, but all are just as precious whether we keep in touch or not. I value the people I meet, for whatever connects us.

And do I get regular calls from friends and go out every week? No, actually and I realise I have cultivated that lifestyle on purpose. Nor do I call anyone. I like my alone time, my pottering and thinking and writing and observing and loneliness does not figure in this life of mine.

So dear friends, I love you all the same and wish you happiness wherever you are and whomever you are or aren’t with, including me. 🙂

Are your Priorities Straight?

Valentine pancake

 

Not much time to blog today as it’s Valentine’s Day and to show the kids that I love them I made them these, above.

NO, I AM LYING, I actually made them these, below

IMG_0116

 

Damn you Pinterest!  I muttered something about ‘Happy Valentine’s Day Kids’ and ‘it’s the thought that counts’ and offered them these also

IMG_0117

 

It turns out, when you flip those babies over, you can’t see the pink heart anyway!  I had better luck with the card, chocolates and cupcakes I made for my boyfriend but don’t get me started on the Pinterest paperweight.  You can have a chuckle at my efforts another time.

Happy Valentine’s Day.  How will you show the ones you love how far you are willing to go for Valentine’s Day?

 

Winning the ‘Beautiful Lottery’. Now what?

lush hair

Ever since I was a little girl of about 6 or 7, long before I cared about my weight or my figure or how much money I had, I wanted lush hair. By lush, I mean I wanted it to go down to my waist and not in stringy, split ends either. I guess it represented my first longings, my first goal, (shortly followed by wanting to do the splits!)

I never did reach that goal, as nature had other ideas and hair dye and straighteners added to the damage.

UNTIL …. I am not sure why exactly but maybe thanks to my new shampoo (Tresemme Split Ends remedy) or eating mini oily fish (tuna) cans as an afternoon snack, my hair is growing! It isn’t ‘there’ yet but it got me thinking.

What happens when I get there? I am enjoying the journey of course but what happens when I reach my destination, my goal? I reached my weight goal a few times in my life and what did it bring me? I remember feeling all yummy in a bikini in Canada, age 20 and going to a water park, ego all puffed up, but no one seemed to notice!! I had a stranger take a photo for the record at least. More recently when I reached my goal weight and thought I had the answer to my personal eating habits for life (I will not give up anything sweet), keeping it off for 2 years, I remember feeling I could ‘tick that one off’ but looked to the next goal of course, until I lost the weight plot somewhere.

But imagine I morphed overnight and won the beautiful lottery. Then what? Which lotteries do you secretly want to win? The fit lottery, strong lottery, organised or happy lotteries perhaps? What would you really gain by arriving at your destination?

By having these goals which you may never reach, is it just an excuse to avoid feel guilty about something you feel you should be doing, but won’t do until you arrive at the hallowed halls of success? If you get everything you dream of, would you feel like you need to be more active, community minded, social (read anything you may be uncomfortable with now).

Having my ‘dream hair’, being rich, slim, more loved will not change these moods which ebb and flow in my life. My happiness can be touched by these, sure, but my joy has its own independence; it’s own little journey which I try to observe as much as I can and appreciate when it peaks.

My lush hair fantasy is just a symbol of the disquiet. Having it won’t change anything at all, except in my mind of course, so for now I will enjoy the invisible growth each day, celebrate when I think I’m having a ‘good hair day’ and try to remember that ultimately it’s only me that cares, it’s just a story and I can write my ‘story’ however I choose. And I choose the happy ending.