Waves

Waves

Where did everybody go? Where did I go? There seems to be a huge lull in the number of blog posts from my favourite bloggers which I receive and read these days. Instead my incoming emails are outnumbered by special offers for teeth whitening and holidays, meals and gadgets. Of course I long since stopped receiving ‘letters’ from friends by email, probably because I don’t write any either.

Anyway I digress. I do know where I am though. I am on a wave. I am always on a wave. My current wave has me doing useful jobs around the house, accomplishing and achieving. Very satisfying. My last wave had me writing blogs almost every day and thinking more deeply. Very satisfying. My current wave has me buying myself treats like cappuccino ice-cream, Chai Latte and chocolate; perhaps feeding up as the cold weather sets in, here in Sydney. Very satisfying. My last wave had me ‘Blogging Myself Thin’ until I lost the 7 Kg of excess weight, gained from the last wave of little treats. Very satisfying. Anyway you get the picture. Life can be immensely satisfying in the little day to day stuff as long as you forget the mirror image – for example I could describe these lovely waves quite differently. I could say I have ‘writers’ block’, I am putting on weight, I am not socialising enough. Pah!! That is not how I see it. I hurry past such thoughts if they drift in.

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy people! The wave is bigger than you, lifting you up and sweeping you along, always keeping your head above the water and moving forward. When it reaches shore and lets you go, you will be drawn back and lifted onto another wave. That’s just how it works.  The turmoil and froth at the end which caused you to exit this wave is just a necessary part of starting over, waking you up, ready to ride the next wave. I look forward to your return to blogging, should you find yourself ready again and am happy for you that your current wave is so enjoyable that you don’t feel the need to share, or pour out your soul, but just to live life. I will be waiting….

Learn to surf

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Yin and Yang


Power tools

I haven’t blogged for a while as my energy seems to have gone into doing up my home. I have heard of the concept of masculine and feminine energy and I wonder which is the more masculine – writing blogs or using power tools! I tend to reject the outside world, including my boyfriend, when I have this huge energy for getting things done so my renovating is a masculine pursuit for me. But what is writing? If feminine energy is being sensual, loving, yearning and preparing for someone else then I would assume that writing is a masculine pursuit.

What constitutes feminine energy? Some people are quiet and softly spoken, good listeners, gentle souls. That’s easy to spot. I look the part, wearing mostly dresses, my long carefully curled hair, make up and love of pink and anything girly but I have a lot of energy (and calloused hands) which surprises people. Sometimes I just want to get things done, so everyone else can bugger off and did I mention that I swear (a lot on a bad day)? I get impatient with pfaffing around, wonder why people don’t just get on with things sometimes and probably come across as aggressive at times.

I actually had a quote about gluttony to write about today but I am so off track I give up on that one for now 🙂 The ultimate digress!

Anyway back to today’s digress. My probably very sexist comments here are just ramblings – exploring out loud, which is why I took to blogging in the first place – a journey not to teach but to discover.

And of what use is today’s outburst to you, the reader if you have gotten this far? I think this has been a reminder to me to become more balanced. I must remember to use all sides of my persona and not head down a masculine path like a woman possessed. Living alone with my kids and not seeing my partner very often (he is another independent creative) has allowed me to indulge my selfish side, which often involves getting things done. But once I am on this ‘kick’ I find it hard to stop. It was Mother’s Day yesterday and I spent the whole day physically working on the home and garden. But I had the best day! And what does it take to commute this energy back to blogging? I committed to myself to at least try today and it’s been hard. This post has been rewritten so many times. I am all over the shop. No beginning, middle or end; no satisfactory conclusion (yet?)

OK here’s the moral of my story. May you remember today to stop and become aware of where you are at – achieving at the expense of human relations, or indulging in love and friendship while the things you should be doing remain neglected and are slowly building up into crisis mode. May your energies be balanced and harmony be restored.

Playful

 

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!

 

Are you a Sparkler or a Log?

Sparkler

I am sure you know what I’m talking about. We’re alive so we have a fire in us that is burning until such time as it goes out. We have energy, in fact we are energy of course. How you use that energy as you live is up to you.

I like to think I’m a sparkler. Enthusiastic, impulsive; I just LOVE life! … Until I don’t and I’m all flat again for a short while. Some people are logs. It might take them a while to ignite but once they do, they just keep on humming along, warm and cosy, glowing and reliable until the end.

So how do you cope if you are a sparkler? Life can be full on amazing; explosive even. When you’ve burned out, as you surely must at some point until the next time, what do you have left?

Bombe Alaska

Now if you were one of these desserts, your loved ones wouldn’t be left looking at a burned out sparkler each time your latest interest extinguishes itself. They would be left with what they know and love, someone inviting, comforting, sweet, wonderful; however else you would like to describe this confection.

So it’s OK to be you. I’ts OK to be up and down, be labelled bipolar perhaps, get enthusiastic but not follow through to something more meaningful or money making. The joy was in the sparkle and the sparkle is always to be appreciated, no matter how short. You know what is left inside you to hold the sparkle. Hold it firmly in your hands and never let it go. The intensity is just one tiny aspect of your personality that people will either be drawn to or avoid. Let them go. We can’t hang on to everyone we come across in life and each interaction is meaningful, no matter how short.

Glowing log

And if you are a log? I applaud you and I envy you in some ways. Your interests will develop as you stick with them and be applauded and recognised. You are glowing, reliable, quietly burning and making the world a warmer place for everyone with your consistency.

There’s room for us all people. And thank goodness for that.

 

Le Tweak, C’est Chic!

Pretty young woman with arms raised standing on beach

We must rediscover the distinction between hope and expectation – Ivan Illich

Yes, I know it’s a big ask to marry up the attention grabbing title (you’re curious and reading aren’t you?) and this quote from the masters. What could they possibly have in common?

I have been away from blogging for a few days because I discovered on Pinterest a board called Tips (one of many no doubt) and magically if you click on any website named at the bottom of the image, it takes you directly to the actual information. I am sure everyone knew that but I assumed it would take you to the website mentioned and then you would have Buckley’s chance of finding the solution promised. Wrong. And there went even more hours of my life.

So for the last few days I have been tweaking my life, my home and my body. I have had fun tweaking my saucepan lids into submission, making homemade make up remover wipes, repairing reading glasses and generally improving my life in a myriad of ways. (Plus I fixed two leaking loos for 75c and 60c respectively, YAY!)

But here’s where the quote comes in. I hope these tips and instructions will actually work. I hope my life will be all the better for having discovered them and having spent so much time on them. I hope I will have the answers to all my small problems in life if I just keep looking. But do I expect everything will turn out perfectly? Do I expect they will all work, my time is being wisely spent and I will become this superwoman/goddess of beauty and domesticity eventually? Not really.

Maid

I will continue though because the fun is in the tweaking. Small victories, new ideas, opening yourself up to a chance of improvement. That’s where the excitement is. I never know what I am going to improve next. We all tweak I am sure. Being totally sexist here, do guys tweak their cars to run better, or tweak their weight training for that extra bit of muscle? Don’t we tweak our recipes to make them exactly how we like? Tweaking is fun! It says I have ideas or knowledge, I am original, I can improve things and change my life for the better. I can get a small part of my life organised even while the rest may be going to sh… I am in charge, I am in control and things are only getting better while I focus on making them so.

So do we expect life will bed a bed of roses until we leave this mortal coil? You can’t tweak a loss, or a car accident or a major life event. We can only tweak how we react to them. Take a deep breath, perhaps. Repeat “it’s only money, only a number on my bank statement” or whatever else may calm you in certain situations. How about ‘this too shall pass’ or ‘when one door closes…’?

Anyway I will tweak away, enjoy my journey of discovery, my small victories and improvements, the good feeling of hoping I am in control of something, anything, while I expect that I am probably not the master of anything at all. But who cares? Today I am merry, the best there is.

And if you now have the song in your head from which I so blatantly borrowed the title, I apologise but go dance!

Dance away

 

Can you see the walls?

Umbrella Street

I don’t have a quote today. Nothing spoke to me. My creative well is dry again. However I found this photo on Pinterest this week and filed it under a board I created called Blog Fodder, so I will run with it 🙂

This is apparently called Umbrella Street in Portugal but maybe it’s photo-shopped. I love it anyway.

It reminds me of the subconscious walls we all have to protect ourselves in life, closely related to boundaries.

I’d like to think that this is what my protective wall looks like. It uses colour and fun and is childish. It has gaps and is trusting that I can handle a little disappointment. It is lighthearted, and uses pretty, but not infallible things to protect me. Perhaps I live in a fantasy that all is basically OK with the world and that we can seek out fun and enjoyment without guilt. I once read that the meaning of life is simply to enjoy it and I ran with that, so I seek out good stuff all the time as my means of distraction and focus. ‘Don’t Put off your Happy Life‘ is printed out and kept right here on my computer.

By good stuff I mean good times – taking time to work out what I enjoy and want and going for it. Things like time to myself, hazelnut coffee, chocolate, music, movies. No doubt I am at risk of coming across as childish, Pollyanna, naive and selfish. That’s OK. I have the same trials and tribulations as everyone else but I skip over them to look for the beauty and the good stuff, of which there is so much. I really love the sound of boiling water pouring out of my kettle into my cup! And yesterday I appreciated having a trolley load of shopping as I walked to my car. We are so lucky!

Anyway I digress. If your walls look a little more like this right now….

Berlin wall 1961

(Berlin Wall 1961)

then I imagine you’ve had a hard life which you’ve not been able to get your head around. I recently read that we build walls, not to keep others out because we don’t trust people, but because we don’t trust ourselves to handle others. I assume that means that we don’t trust ourselves to handle the feelings that we think the outside world incites.

Perhaps our filter on what we experience needs some adjusting. That has been one of my greatest lessons – that we have a filter and we can change it; interpret everything completely differently to suit ourselves. 

Anyway back to the lighthearted, here is another Pinterest image of painted beachballs in a tree which brought a smile to my face.

Watch out

Or, pulling out the big guns to get you to smile and lighten up today, try this!

Smiling

I like to think…..

Thinking child

  • that this blog will be of comfort to my kids if I died suddenly and they would read it, feeling like I am still there talking to them…
  • that my ancestors might even be interested in these little snippets of my current thinking from 2013
  • that if any potential employer sees my blog, they will be able to work out if I am right for their organisation in whatever capacity, mostly because I’m a ‘nice’ person and not afraid to be me
  • that one day I will be truly organised, with nothing in my house I don’t truly need, a recipe book full of tasty, easy, nutritious, inexpensive, one pot (little washing up) meals and a folder of photos of my outfits, carefully assembled so I know what to wear every morning and have some hope of looking polished
  • that one day I will not judge each mouthful I eat against my figure and each dollar I spend against my need to be thrifty; actually that I will lose some of my perfectionism

 

Think

  • that I will get to meet my favourite bloggers in person one day such as Yaz in Doha, Diane in America, Little Miss Wordy in Puerto Rico, Sarah Jane in Malta, Colin in America, Adriana in South Sydney etc etc. Hey what a trip that would be!
  • that my kids will live their lives doing what they love and have a gift at; that they are better prepared for life mentally than I was at their age
  • that I will never stop thinking and dreaming and making these lists
  • that anyone who reads this will make their own list and perhaps then take steps to examine some of their unspoken dreams

 

Examine your dreams

A Wordless but Excruciating Battle

 

Marilyn in thought 1960s

Whatever is good to know is difficult to learnGreek Proverb

Thinking deeply about what this quote means to me is actually painful because it brings up memories of some awful times, from my childhood onwards. I don’t think ‘good’ is the right word in this proverb. Maybe it got lost in translation from the Greek. ‘Whatever is essential, life changing, character forming is excruciating to learn.’ Yes that’s better.

The kind of situation I think this most applies to is, for example,  when you have had a hideous argument with someone. You might be fuming, full of adrenalin and thinking things like ‘if only I’d said that’ or ‘and yes I really am right because of this and this’, or ‘they hate me, I am useless, I will always be useless’ or ‘they are awful, I don’t want to ever be friends again, just think of all the rotten things they have done to me in the past’.

All sorts of nasties can creep in whispered by the gremlins, or ‘pain body’ (Eckhart Tolle) or the devil, if you will. As your mind tries to work out the solution to ease the discomfort you are feeling, and find a way to dissipate this anger, you don’t realise that you may be using the wrong tools to solve your dilemma; like using your elbow to clean out your ear.

We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them – Albert Einstein

As a child, you are likely to continue on this path, storing hurts and painful memories. You might avoid the other person until you’ve forgotten what you were arguing about and eventually sweep the hurt under the carpet. Or the fight escalates and others get involved until so much damage is done that you fall out permanently. The worst outcome is that you decide you really must be useless.  You create this opinion about yourself (which you are sure is based in reality), thanks to all the information you have gathered in this terrible hyped up state. You condemn yourself and slowly slip into the habit of depression, imprinting your brain until it’s in your neural pathways and hard to fight off, useful as a reliance mechanism; a mental way out that’s like a stinky but familiar old blanket.

But, with maturity and a lot of difficult soul searching, I learned what was ‘good to know’, namely that it can all change in an instant. The path is not set; it is created by you as you take each step. For it is you and only you treading the path and creating your own consequences. I later learned how to effect that change in myself and learned what needs to happen internally and externally.  These kinds of situations will be offered to you again and again until you learn the lesson, so you might as well learn it sooner rather than later.

Here are some of the ways this situation can be resolved, either by our own hand which has longer lasting effects or by others;

– The other person comes to apologise and all those destructive thoughts you were having evaporate, until perhaps the next time.

– You gather yourself (it comes with practice, but try focusing on your breathing for a start) and look at the situation more objectively until you calm down and start to see the other person’s side also.

– You realise you might actually be wrong if you would only admit it, and that it’s OK to make horrible mistakes.  You will live and survive, head held high. Perfectionism be damned!

– You reach out and say a simple sorry to the other person, whether you feel sorry or not (everyone always thinks they are right, but really there is often no such thing; it’s too subjective).

It’s best if you do feel sorry of course, having recognised the nonsense of the argument, your part in it (why don’t we dare admit to ourselves that we are far from perfect?) and remembering why you have a relationship with that person in the first place.  Even ‘faking it till you make it’, nips the destructive and out of control feelings in the bud.

To me the most important lesson is to not give yourself time to wallow if you are running down this thorn-filled path. Tell yourself you are not listening to this rubbish and won’t make any decisions about anything until you are calmer. Hop off this runaway thought train this instant.

I guess that’s why they say ‘don’t let the sun set on an argument’; so that you don’t have time to create mountains out of mole hills in your head. This can be sturdy advice but here’s another way of looking at it;

My ex (still good friends) and I agreed to never argue at night, when somehow things seemed worse because of being tired or due to the darkness. The sun coming up the next morning makes a huge difference to one’s psyche. It’s just biology. If you are calm and fully able to sleep, knowing the other person is OK too, go for it! You might agree to continue the talk later; at least forging some kind of agreement between you amidst the discord.

If you are centred enough to mend bridges now, do that. But if the person who is battling the strongest emotions needs time to settle down and has the capacity to calm themselves, then distance is good. This process of learning to calm yourself may take years to acquire; or if you are a mature soul, you may be born with it. But it is difficult to learn, it is good to know and so essential to finding happiness. The reward is trust in yourself and your ability to endure and enjoy living as a flawed human being, when life’s inevitable changes are thrown at you or you let yourself down.

And why is it so difficult to learn to change our thoughts instead of be ruled by them, with the accompanying emotions and dramas; to try a completely different path; to put ourselves out there and be vulnerable, especially to ourselves?  Why protect our egos?

I guess it’s difficult because we have to put ourselves in an uncomfortable situation where we don’t know the outcomes.  We are afraid of ourselves, not of the other person.  This new thinking will change the dynamic of the relationship with the other person of course, but most importantly with our story about who we think we are.

So we dither. Why we dither and how to get around it is one of those ‘good to know’ things to which this Greek Proverb alludes. It’s probably one of the hardest things in life to learn to know and accept yourself, warts and all and then test it out on other people.

Anyway I digress.  I believe if you practise learning to center yourself, calm down and forgive yourself it becomes easier with time. Say sorry to people. See how they react! Are you nervous of their response, of making them feel uncomfortable or of your being rejected? If so, a hug goes a long way and does just the same as words, without any need for eye contact.

Marilyn Hugging

And if they push you away, you will still feel good for trying. You haven’t pushed you away.  You are now a stronger person. Their response has nothing to do with you. It is their journey; only they can mend their inner world. You can only work on your own inner peace and happiness, but I bet you will have left your mark.

Marilyn and Joan Copeland 1957

But I didn’t ask for your advice!

I don't want your advice, son

There is nothing which we receive with so much reluctance as adviceJoseph Addison

Now that depends. Is the advice asked for? Do we hate it when someone says ‘if you want my advice….’? There are certain situations when everyone wants to give their advice such as having a baby, child rearing, dieting, or, god forbid, if someone gets cancer. Eat lemons, see that guru, eliminate dairy, meditate!

Sometimes we may think we are asking for advice but really we just want a sounding board. No matter what the other person comes up with, it may just be the vessel for helping us examine our own real beliefs. We may even realise that we want the opposite of what is being suggested. But at least we have our answers by resisting the adviser’s comments and stating our ideas out loud.

When do we go looking for advice? Are we open to it really? Do we have any intention of being swayed or are we too rigid to accept anything outside our current belief system? I like to think I am wildly open to any new idea or suggestion but if I am present and have time to contemplate while the other person is talking, I catch myself thinking. It might be ‘No, but’ and then have dialogue with myself (great multitasking while I am listening) and decide that I might tell them politely but firmly that it’s not for me, or I’ve tried that. Sometimes I might just agree and then go do the opposite! Some cultures are excellent at this; in fact it’s the only polite way to proceed.

Do you have these conversations with yourself, even while you listen to others? If I can be fully aware like this, I far prefer it as I come out with a more measured response and not a reactive one. It can also advance the conversation as you work out how they might respond to the first response you are formulating, so you predict both sides of the conversation and come out ahead.

Anyway, see if you can catch yourself thinking, next time someone is offering advice, and moderate your reply. By responding differently, who knows what different outcomes you might invite into your life and your relationships?

As I was saying...

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