Connecting the dots

In the past year I have learned so much – about writing, blogging, social media, about people and about myself. And it couldn’t have been learned in a week, even if I read and wrote 24 hours a day, clocking up the same amount of hours as over the past year. It doesn’t work like that.

Sometimes you need to see a snapshot over time and I feel I am now beginning to connect the dots. What I have learned is that I am not alone in my ups and downs. I experience great highs and lows and unless the entire blogging world of writers are all bipolar, then nor am I! (Actually, don’t answer that). I read and get to experience wonderful highs in others’ posts, words of joy, wisdom, encouragement, faith and now I look on them not with skepticism, knowing that it will crash back at some point, but with love and connection. I read about people’s lows also, interpreting what’s between the lines and only guessing at the depth of pain contained therein.

But my aha moment today is seeing the ebb and flow of it all. Our inner worlds simply can’t remain the same; it’s not possible. I want to get out there and hug every blogger, whether they are at their peak or wondering how they let the joy slip away without noticing and wondering what on earth to write about if they felt their blog should be all joy and roses.

Here is my hug people, whether the sun is shining, your world is simple and the decks are cleared, ready for the fun times ahead to be enjoyed or whether you are wondering why you are bogged down and nothing seems to interest you these days. I truly believe we are ultimately all the same and there is nothing wrong with that. Remember to connect your own dots and see the picture you are creating.

need a hug

need a hug

 

 

I Had It All Backwards (as usual)

The finger

Just when you think you are on your way, you are almost smug, you think you have a handle on this thing called life and wayward emotions, something happens, the penny drops and you realise you are barely there after all.

“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”
-William Shakespeare

I go for a run each morning and the first 800 metres is along a narrow street where you basically have to park to let another car through. It means I have to park myself and break my ‘stride’ in order to let each car pass. I have this silly thing where I watch intently to see if they will thank me for anticipating their passing, and taking myself off the road (there are no footpaths as it’s on a steep hill). Anything would do, a wave, a nod, a smile. Just any recognition that I had given them a little gift and not made them slow down on their way to work.

When I would detect no trace, I would walk back onto the road and give them the finger behind my back at waist level. Hah! That showed them!! As if they would even see it in such an odd place or know what it was!

Then I realised I had it all backwards, yet again. My joy is in doing a good deed, even if no one notices; in my own opinion of myself. And their joy would be in thanking me, if they did so. The ones that don’t acknowledge it are either in their own little world, perhaps late for work (more reason to get off the road), don’t realise that I got out of their way on purpose or are just not appreciative people. So their little joy is lost to them.

Now I can look into the faces of those in the cars I have stopped for and give them the warmest smiles, come what may. My run just got easier!

 

Minute to Minute, Lock it in!

Up and Down

What a day-to-day affair life is – Jules Laforgue

I like this quote but I would like to change it to ‘what a minute to minute affair life is’. I’ve heard that each day is like a mini lifetime, between waking up and going to sleep. I’ve appreciated and pondered on that too. However, recently I’ve been getting caught up in my own head again, trying to attain goals and reach destinations instead of appreciating the day to day or the minute to minute or even second to second. The first step to ‘recovery’ is awareness so I’m going OK.

Over Easter and the last week while housebound with my daughter who has just had a tonsillectomy I got this idea to have a huge purge of my belongings so that if I ever rented out my house as a holiday home, I could hide or remove what’s left of my stuff in an instant at short notice.

It makes you take stock of where you are at in this minute – surrounded by old projects, unworn ‘fat/thin’ clothes, sentimental keepsakes, inherited items, things which might just be worth something if only you knew who to ask, old tapes and DVDs of home videos etc . The list goes on. I once read a fascinating article on why we keep stuff that isn’t ‘beautiful or useful’ and it made so much sense. I have plenty in each category.

So I did well. A lot went to the tip and a similar amount went to the local Op Shop, Salvation Army. I was as ruthless as I could be given my thrifty nature, huge imagination for what something could be used for and a history of having lived in 6 countries, each with their own collectibles and memories.

Where the quote comes in is that I had to keep remembering that short of getting a skip and having someone else just come take it all away, I would never reach my destination as such. The best I could come up with was blocking off a larger bedroom and creating a store room out of it, which I think is the way to go.

I have moved house enough times to know that what looks like a few books on a shelf translates to loads of very heavy, large boxes. I just had this story playing in my head that I would be able to purge it all, live out of a suitcase, take off and travel the world again. I don’t need anything! But then I would pick up one item at a time and find reasons to keep it. I am still going and learning now to enjoy each minute, each item discarded. Joy is now after all 🙂 Each item I discard only makes a fraction of a difference with all that I have accumulated but it’s a little win each time; a little victory to let it go.

This translates to ways of thinking also. We have accumulated our stories, beliefs, ways of looking at things and things which stress us, and our lives will never be ‘problem free’. Silly things pop into my head when I first wake up. So I can only let each little stressor go. My daughter will eventually want to get a job in her spare time around her studies when she has something she really wants to save for. My son will stop playing computer games and join the world when the course of nature demands he become interested in getting to know the (opposite) sex. And these stressors will be replaced by other ones I’m told. My elderly friend John, with his age 50 and 60 something kids said the kids’ problems just get bigger as they get older. They could marry someone who treats them badly, go broke, get divorced etc etc.

Thus I will never arrive. My house will never be completely fixed (think leaky taps, rotting wood and every noxious weed present in my garden). My kids will never live life the way I do. My finances will never be such that I spend with abandon and without guilt. I happen to have just whipped my body into shape, thanks to my other blog but that can change in an instant 🙂

So Jules, if life is a day to day or minute to minute affair, in this minute I am proud of myself for letting small things go. I am proud of not letting the messy rooms stress me, or the holes in my sofa covers, or curtain linings. I am enjoying purging one item at a time, getting organised and decluttering. As long as I have the energy and will to even do this, life is great! That’s what happy is to me; being engaged.

This day’s affair then is to be filled with as much laughter as possible, as much letting go as I can manage and as much simplicity and peace as I can create.

do more

The Continuum of It Doesn’t Matter

Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter – Mark Twain

Stressed Lady

I don’t mind what age I am. For the record, I am turning 47 in a few weeks. I heard someone on the radio panicking about turning 30 and it brought up some memories. At that age I wasn’t worried about the big 3-0 because I was where I thought I should be – married, 2 kids and another on the way. And there’s the problem – the thinking and the shoulds. It worked for me but it would have caused me pain if I hadn’t ‘achieved my goals’. And it was a goal, to be honest. I was looking for love and Mr Right from birth I think.

Anyway I digress. What I really wanted to blog about is realising that so much of life just doesn’t matter. I think you need to have experienced the stress and come out the other side to realise that. That’s why I love being this age. I don’t mind my age, in fact I relish it, so it doesn’t matter, exactly as Mark says.

Of course it’s always how you interpret life.

When you are born everything matters – it’s a matter of life and death to be fed and kept warm and safe. But it’s a continuum from ‘everything matters’ to ‘nothing matters’, which we travel along as we age or mature. Everyone is along it somewhere and you don’t have to become an uncaring robot at the far end, which of course is unattainable. You are just more accepting of life.

Here are some things with hindsight that no longer matter to me, or at least matter a whole lot less:

He/she thinks I’m fat/stupid/too much (choose your own adjective) – I care less now about what other people think even if they actually do think that (they may not). It’s their thoughts they are polluting with negativity; I work on purifying my own thoughts

I will be late for work (road rage ensues) – I am on time most of the time and they value me as an employee so they won’t care or fire me and even if they do, I will be OK because I can cope better with life’s changes now

Some boyfriends didn’t want to be with me anymore – change is inevitable and a good thing. Each time that happened it woke me up, created new opportunities and I found someone more on the same wavelength who did want to be with me, or I enjoyed my own company instead. Now I realise that their choice doesn’t have to affect my own opinion of myself

I’m of a certain age and I haven’t fulfilled my dreams – well I never wanted to be an Olympic athlete, and many dreams are still achievable now that I’m older, wiser and have more freedom

This dress is too tight and my tummy is sticking out – it only matters if I think it does. If I don’t realise how ‘bad’ I look, my confidence will be high and I will always have a good time

Full isolated studio picture from a young woman with falling flowers

These are just off the top of my head but it’s such a useful exercise to do with yourself. Become two people and to all your worries, the other you says ‘it doesn’t matter because’. I think if you really look you will find your own answers are right there.

A year from now

You could play this game with almost anything. Mark Twain hits it on the head. It only matters if you mind; if you stress over it and give it your precious thought/mind time. I think being truly at peace and enlightened means learning to not mind about anything; to not stress for a second longer than you have to. That’s the joy of maturing – you work out that most things only bother you if you let them and you don’t waste time stressing over it.

So, repeat after me “It doesn’t matter”.

Kids are washable

Clear as Mud but Twice as Satisfying

Look around you

The young have aspirations that never come to pass, the old have reminiscences of what never happened – SAKI

When I was younger I dreamed of being many things and not once did I want to be a writer, as I do now. At seven I wrote stories about magical dolls based on my Tiny Tears and ‘April Love’. I wrote about talking bluebells and I even penned a LOT of poems which I haven’t done in years (unless you count the rap song my boyfriend and I wrote together, 2 lines each at a time, as a series of playful text messages recently). I even won a local council writing competition at seven; the pinnacle of my career thus far.

Although my childhood aspirations never came to pass, it’s only because I didn’t want them enough. In fact I never even tried – ballerina, tv actress, hairdresser, air hostess, artist, model, psychologist and more; quite the array. Instead I got an Economics degree and NOT ONCE did I aspire to be an Economist or Mathematician, despite studying those subjects at great length!

So I believe my aspirations are waiting in the wings now that my ‘second life‘ as Barbara Sher puts it, is here. There will be an empty nest someday soon, I am older and wiser, still full of energy and my focus is to a large degree on me now; not on building home and family. This second life is our gift to do with as we please and I am grateful to Barbara for writing a great book on this subject. It’s only too late if you don’t start now.

Anyway I digress. I really picked this quote because I have been thinking a lot recently about how we clean up our reminiscences; or our stories. I have this unfortunate need to tell everyone my life story and also to ‘talk in detail’ when I am not aware of myself, not present. I do waffle, as you would know if you follow my blog! When I am ‘present and aware of myself’, I can summarise, just a little. In order to relay as much information as possible in the shortest time we try to capture the essence of our stories. We miss out details and clean the stories up. Quite often if we are presented with any written evidence of our past such as diaries, we realise that we have changed the story as well as forgotten large chunks, perhaps subconsciously. You only have to hear 5 eye witness versions of the same event to know that they can’t all be right and yet each witness genuinely believes they are recounting what happened.

So we can give ourselves the benefit of the doubt in many cases, due to an unpredictable memory, and in other cases we have to forgive ourselves for rearranging the story to protect our egos, our image of ourselves.

My story of my marriage and its eventual dissolution is quite different to my ex husband’s. The story of our current financial situations are so different that you would hardly know we were the same two people. Of course it’s how we see things.

So how do you want to see things? What image of yourself are you clinging to? Battler, Tragic, Lucky, Brave, Unlucky, Martyr? See how your stories are shaped by this.

Have you ever been at some course where you have to turn to the stranger next to you and tell them your life story in one minute only? Try it. What are the bones you pick out? Your age, marital status, kids, job, tragedies or triumphs that changed your life course? Now try it again but relate the essence of who you think you are inside, what your hobbies and aspirations are, your current joys and anxieties. Your face as you recount this second version will more likely be real, showing emotion, being present and aware. That’s how connection is really made; between real, vulnerable people.

I think I digress again but my point is to be aware of our selective memory and the fact that things aren’t always what they seem – for others or ourselves. Our stories are as clear as mud; as fake as the imperfect egoic mind they are created and rearranged in. For they are arranged to satisfy the ego, whether to say Look at Me or Poor Me or Lucky Me. Each has its purpose.

It’s only when we are here, now that everything is real and true. Look around you. Enjoy this moment and the clarity of what’s around you. You can’t doubt that lovely colour you see, or the friends near you or your home, or the sky or the music you hear. The smells are real, the tastes and the feelings. Clear as a bell and music to your soul, if only you realised it.

 

Time to Clear the Decks

Clear the decks

 

Photo from Pinterest

Confucius say Tidy Computer Desk equal tidy Mind

Yeah, I know that’s not exactly it but it’s early OK? And I wanted a quote to express a little joy I got this morning. I moved 3 hats. Not earth shattering, especially as I only moved them 3 feet above to a shelf, and yet the joy of seeing the white chest of drawers again was inspiring. It was refreshing, and now every time I go in my walk in wardrobe (for 3 days while my brain gets used to it) I will be reminded that things have changed. Life is always changing.

I am soothed by knowing that I have just a little control in this crazy world and that part of the ‘Happy Life‘ which I no longer put off (since I’ve printed out 3 signs to remind me) is to create calm. If this means hiding everything I have in cupboards or throwing away 27 things a day for 9 days, or buying myself flowers (a very rare thing), I can do it. And it has a great return on investment.

If can keep this up, it means I’ll be ready for anything. I will know where things are, I will be inspired by finding new stuff that is really actually old stuff that I love, and maybe the gods of Feng Shui will smile on me if I accidentally get it right.

If I can examine my resistance to throwing or giving stuff away, I will know myself a little better and can wear down my silly beliefs about hanging on to stuff. Extreme Hoarders anyone? I am fascinated by their logic but only because I have those tendencies.

Chair hoarding

Photo from Pinterest

Anyway, it must be time to clear this out a drawer or something before work. Tidy Drawer, Tidy Mind 🙂

 

Who’s singing now?

Birds Singing

A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song – Lou Holz

What does it take to make the birds sing every morning? Will they sing, good mood or bad, cold or wet, tired or afraid? I suspect they will, because they have a song and nothing will deter them from it. They are preprogrammed to sing. They know that’s what they do and it doesn’t occur to them to do otherwise as the sun comes up each day. And it probably makes them feel great! I learned that even faking a smile raises your happiness levels so those birds are probably on to something.

 

Let the Birds Sing

 

The birds in Sydney are noisy. The Kookaburras compete with the screeching Cockatoos, who drown out the Whip Birds and I think the rainbow coloured Lorikeets make a terrible racket, to be honest, much as I am in awe of their looks. With flowers, the sweetest smelling seem to be the plainest and perhaps so it is with birds; that the most beautiful make the worst noise and vice versa.

Anyway, back to the premise of this lovely quote, which is that we all have a song within us somewhere; a talent, a love for something, a gift perhaps. How often do we sing though? What stops us? What increases our confidence to new heights, full of ideas and certainty and inspiration one minute and then whips it all away?

I think that finding what you love, be it reading blogs or books, or admiring painting or photography etc will eventually lead to getting the confidence to create your own. Baby steps, a few notes which hopefully burgeon into a song or even an album.

I’ve read this morning of some people starting their blogs because they just enjoyed reading others’ blogs and wanted to have their own, and having to look for a subject to ‘sing ‘about. They found their voice and sung. Yay for them.

For others like me, it’s an outlet, a voice. I must sing, I simply must. My song is unfolding.

 

Find your song and sing it

Wishing you all a lovely song today and a bumptious and joyous rendition!

 

 

 

Do you mind being called a ‘Control Freak’?

Alone in a boat

A committee of one gets things done – Joe Ryan

I just couldn’t blog on Friday. I had the requisite hour, wasted ages looking at Pinterest, ran out of time and decided that a great photo and one quote would do it – and then the Universe wouldn’t let me upload the photo! That was my sign. No blog. Blogger’s block or something.

So it was time to do something different. I chose this quote at complete random out of a desk calendar and went with it. The point of these is to stretch my mind. Thank goodness I liked it because I wonder how well bloggers go with a subject they don’t like? Do we freeze up? Would I have made myself write if I found the quote boring? 

Anyway I digress. So why would a committee of one get things done? There are many other quotes about teamwork and ‘two heads are better than one’ and ‘standing on the shoulders of giants‘ etc. But then you get ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ and quotes like this.

This boat photograph inspires a good example. I once had the biggest fight with my best friend when we were 14 on a lake in a rowing boat. We soon grasped the whole rowing thing but when we tried to do it together we went round in circles. This added much merriment at first and a lot of embarrassment being at that age (in a public park in Paris I might add) and we eventually managed to progress, but when it came time to get back to the rental by a deadline so that we wouldn’t lose our deposit, it all went horribly wrong. Communication was lacking, co-ordination was lacking (mine) and we shouted, splashed and zig zagged along until we decided that one person alone would be better despite the combined strength of two. A committee of one.

I do like to work alone. I could not possibly blog with someone else. One person decides what to write. There is no room for discussion except with yourself and you just go for it. It would take too long to brainstorm and discuss other ideas each morning. I wouldn’t want to interrupt my ‘flow’ when I have it and I decide what I write, how I edit and when to hit publish. It’s a great feeling of control, this blogging thing isn’t it? Perhaps as writers/artists we are drawn to being in control. Are you a control freak? Do you mind being called that any more, now that it’s so commonplace?

I accept that side of myself now when it appears. And yet the answer to happiness I have decided this week is to be as easy going as possible and not let anything bother me if I can possibly help it. You might think the ultimate easy going people are all ‘peace, love and brown rice’ and live simply and rather poorly, which is too depressing but here’s the thing – they are happy! They have let go of wanting everything. I haven’t. I want all my creature comforts and lifestyle and to still be happy. Are they so hard to combine? Or do I have to be part of the rat race to keep this up and therefore likely be more stressed?

Anyway, I went to see the ‘movie’ Samsara yesterday, which was really thought provoking. It’s basically just footage of short videos from around the world and music to go with it, for 1 ½ hours. I thought it would be like spectacular armchair travelling (and leave me with a sense of wanting to get on a plane immediately) and it started out that way with volcanic eruptions and a monastery perched on a rock; the monks making sand Mandalas. But it progressed to disturbing images among the incredibly beautiful ones. It left me with a feeling of how lucky I am to be here. The rat race is doable for me because it’s what I know. Appliance factories in China and abattoirs and prisons and armies and tribes in Africa are too out of my experience. We all cope with and ultimately accept what we must.  Such is the human spirit.

Boy I am off the subject today! But at least I am flowing again.

Apologies for rambling on, to anyone who gets this far (or who stopped reading immediately). Blogging is for me to explore my beliefs and I’ve enjoyed that today. I rest my case – a committee of one.

 

I am off to Paradise

Paradise

This is my idea of heaven! I’d rather be there right now. Why? What does it mean to me? Who would I want with me? What would I bring? What would I do? What would I feel?  Who would I be? What about this image is so special? Will I stop asking questions?

It’s just an image I came across while searching for an inspiring quote and decided to use as a reminder of the things I love. I am still thinking of yesterday’s ‘Don’t put off your Happy Life’ and what a Happy Life is to me. This place could be in it. I like to remind myself of the things I love and why.  I guess that’s the same as reminding myself of who I am. It’s important to me to remember my joys, dream a little, immerse myself. How often do you go for the things you love? Do you gather them in one place to save for later?  It takes just a minute to find something – go do it! And if you can’t indulge physically, take a moment to think about something special.  The brain doesn’t know the difference!

Beautiful people do not just happen

The most beautiful people

This is one of my beliefs, borne since becoming a blogger (which actually means reading others’ blogs more than writing my own). I am most drawn to and in awe of the people with ‘an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life’ or the will to understand it. You are beautiful.

So this little post is for the other bloggers out there with enough to say (or photograph) and the need to say or show it that they grabbed the confidence to share with the world.

I think the only difference between artists and others who would not call themselves creative is that artists take time to slow down, examine the world, find enough space between their ego and their inner self to let go and put themselves (their work) on the line (heehee online). We are not on a driven path (not anymore anyway) to somewhere but more in the present, observing. We are explorers in a way, pushing boundaries as soon as we see them.

Bloggers = writers = artists using words (or photographs) instead of paint.  Artists have a reputation for being unstable, depressed, doing their ‘best work’ when down etc etc. Think Van Gogh, musicians etc. If we were permanently ‘depressed’ we wouldn’t be getting out of bed long enough to blog. We have beautiful highs also. If depression is a distant memory it still shapes us and if it hangs around threatening to rear its ugly head it makes us appreciate the good times even more. Win win if you look at it the right way.

Anyway I digress. Thanks to the beautiful people out there taking unpaid time to write and share. Thank you for your gifts; they are much appreciated.

 

Baby kiss