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



  • 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


Did you earn anything today?

Loving Grandparents

Old age takes away from us what we have inherited and gives us what we have earned – Gerald Brenan

I do not remember ever seeing this quote yet it came from last year’s desk calendar. It speaks to me today because I was pondering yesterday on whether I would jump at the chance of living a human life again.

No life is untouched by want, need, joy, tragedy, love, work and sacrifice, among other things. If I look back on the days when I had 3 kids under the age of 4 at once and the sleepless nights and helplessness I felt as a parent in the face of their tears at times, I might wonder if I wouldn’t mind missing those years out, no matter how adorable it all looks now in the photos. If I look back on these days, where I am a single parent, working full time, trying to pay the bills, manage the house, garden and pool with elbow grease, 3 teenagers and a low budget, I might wonder if I could miss these years out instead. If I look back on when I was waiting to see if I could emigrate to Australia and couldn’t get my life started, I might want to skip that year instead.

But the list goes on and on, and each phase of life has its moments – merry, marvellous and tough. Of course I wouldn’t miss out a moment. There are trying and horrible events, and deaths and testing people and depression but these particular tribulations are behind me now, and I came out the other side, brave enough to see what transpires next.

Anyway I digress. Gerald is saying, I believe, that we are born with physical attributes and personality traits and hopefully at least one parent to love and take care of us as we grow into adults. As we leave the nest and find our own way in the world we ‘earn’ a second family, jobs, friends, money, status, lifestyle, health and happiness.

Old age, while stealing our looks and youthful health, replaces it with a sense of accomplishment and wisdom if we have chosen to grab it, an understanding of how things will likely play out, a sense of our own strengths in the face of adversity and hopefully less reactivity to everything around us. We may have lost our ancestors and parents by then but we will have replaced it with the next generations, or great friends and community bound to us by all we have done for each other.

Baby hands

With any luck we have replaced uncertainty with happiness, angst with confidence borne of the years.

Can I take my current knowledge to my next life? Would you replace youth for all you know now? I value what I’ve been through to get here. I hope you do too.



World of Fools

Pity the critical man, for he lives in a world of fools – Unknown Author

Do you ever listen to yourself? Hear the words coming out of your mouth? Just occasionally when I am trapped in my mindstream I start swearing; effing this and B… that !! People who don’t know me can be a bit surprised because I dress fairly conservatively and have a slightly posh British accent. But swear I do and it is an excellent reminder to stop right there and listen to myself. I usually swear when I am being critical and judgmental; when I am deciding that things are not so favourable!! Being a somewhat emotional type, in case you hadn’t gathered from The Ugly Duckling has Landed, my thoughts can sometimes swing the other way and leave me foul mouthed for short periods. But I have learned to stop and take stock in such times. I realise how negative I am being and how I am clouding and creating my world by being critical of what is always a neutral event.

I had a boss five years ago who lived in a world of fools. Literally. Life had led him to believe that he was superior and that everyone his company employed was stupid. Being his PA, I would hear him rant and rave about these unsuspecting souls; the same people that I found most perceptive and delightful. Not surprisingly, in the year and a half that I worked there, 30 out of 37 staff left. The ones that remained were in the ‘inner circle’ for whatever reason and were being paid well above average for what they did. Of course he was surrounded by the same people we are always surrounded by. Human beings. Just people. But he felt hard done by, as though HR were carefully choosing the biggest morons in Australia. And it became self-fulfilling.

The strange thing was that I became a little ‘stupid’. I would let him fluster me with his permanently steely, unwavering, expressionless stare and I would make mistakes, thereby justifying his opinion. I can’t speak for the others. I think he had no idea of having created his own world. He saw only the examples which led him to believe the world was that way. While I was there I hated him for making me feel stupid, then I pitied him for alienating everyone around him. With hindsight he is just another human being doing his best and he obviously enjoys his world and his views, on some level, as we all do. So I don’t agree with this quote that you have to pity the critical. They are ‘rewarded’ in some way, as we all are, or we wouldn’t behave the way we do. As long as we can see that we create our own inner and outer world.

I have often been described often as excitable, enthusiastic, full of boundless energy, way too talkative. I get told to settle down, ‘calm your farm’. People get out their wooden spoons. I get asked where my off switch is. (Once I was told by a laughing shopkeeper I was talking to when I was 21 and had just moved to Australia to ‘never change’. You don’t often say that to your customers I imagine).

Because I criticised myself for being excitable at times, I would always be mortally offended. Now I smile, genuinely. I am no longer so self critical. I accept that I am who I am and they are who they are. They can say what they like. It’s just words, their opinion. ‘The truth hurts’ is actually more about what you believe to be the truth. It isn’t necessarily the truth.

On a continuum I can be fairly extreme in some ways, but someone has to inhabit those realms and it might as well be me. I can handle it. I love it. I embrace it now. (I have also read a book which gives ten great, polite comebacks for these kinds of statements should we feel a response is expected).

So I like to check on what kind of world I am inhabiting from time to time. When I swear out loud to myself I am reminded to listen, reset, start again and change the judgmental, critical being that has temporarily taken over. I wasn’t enjoying it anyway. That is all it takes. Wake up, listen to yourself.

Since becoming more aware and present, and dropping the critical stance, my world is looking brighter, the people look more lovely. I inhabit a wonderful world. And I am not afraid to let it be known what I can see through my eyes. I see white where others see black. I see beautiful hair, or an elegant walk or exciting weather or magnificent colours. I see people doing their loving best, kids behaving exactly as they are supposed to, things which break because we no longer need them. What do you see?

PS the Unknown Author above is me. Sorry. I don’t usually lie.

Are you awake yet?

Awakenings are just the beginning – Damon Gautama on www.becomingfullyhuman.wordpress.com

We start each day with an awakening by definition. For some it is ‘we start each day, hopefully’ not as in a hopeful mood but hopefully we start the day. My 80 plus friend John used to joke that he always woke up in a good mood, because he didn’t take it for granted. He would say “Fantastic. I’m alive!” And start his day. I think it would serve us all well to do that. But I am sure this is not what Damon is referring to. I think he means the awakening of our authentic self, our soul if you like, the true and loving part of ourselves that will best navigate us through our lives.

My journey to Awakening will always be gradual but I sometimes have mini wake up calls, à la Eckhart Tolle, where I snap out my thoughts, and step back to become an observer of what’s in my present. For example, I might observe myself in an unengaged conversation, an angry mood I don’t want to be in or a petty argument which I am all heated up over. Sometimes when I am fighting with my kids, I get a fit of the giggles. I suddenly step out and see us there, all hot and bothered. It looks ridiculous. It is ridiculous! And when I get that gift of awakening and laugh, my kids can’t help but smile themselves, even if they want to stay angry and we laugh together.We are both awake. Next thing you know we are hugging and apologising, even joking about how we accidentally hurt ourselves or repeated ourselves and tried to hide it during the argument. The awakening is the beginning of the end of the argument; the beginning of love and closeness once more. I don’t want to fight and nor do they. It is fantastic to be able to ‘save face’ and exit stage left.

Being able to do this is such a gift. I actually think it saved my life. In Egypt 15 years ago I had 3 kids under 4 and was feeling particularly ill. For the first time in our 6 year marriage,  I asked my then husband to come home from work early to look after us. As he took his time coming I was so angry with him that he decided to go and stay at a hotel.  Another first. But because he is such a nutty engineer he couldn’t find any of his clothes to pack. As he was storming about the room where I lay in bed, I got the giggles and we managed to resolve the fight. That night on my way to the bathroom I passed out and defecated on the floor. I was in intensive care for a few days and the doctor said I might not have made it through that night. (Tropical disease, severe dehydration in case you are curious.)

Anyway I digress. Really being awake is where the fun starts, the new beginning. You begin to experience joy, optimism and hope, like when you fall in love. It’s the beginning of new experiences and your world seems at least manageable if not downright pleasurable. You have this inner voice that tolerates and appreciates, starting with yourself. If you are kind to yourself, you are more likely to be kind to others (see the post on All Criticism is Self Criticism).

Another way to picture the potential strength of an Awakening is to imagine winning the lottery. Suddenly your future happiness looks assured (of course it will not be as our internal world always prevails and the luxuries eventually fail to provide ongoing comfort as we take them for granted) and you begin to see everything differently.

So I repeat Damon’s words. Awakenings are just the beginning. There is so much more to come once you are awake. ‘Today is the first day of the rest of your life’ I have heard. So shape your life from here. It’s just as well to remember that and I am glad I am awake to get started!

What’s in your fridge?

Whenever you fall, pick up something – Oswald Theodore Avery

Just now I dropped an open tub of margarine. In the millisecond it took to fall, I know I furrowed my brow as I expected it to splat all over the floor. I also remember being curious while it actually fell as I had never dropped one before (and you would usually call me Miss Accident Prone Butterfingers).  I knew I was about to learn something.

Of course, because it had only just come out of the fridge, first thing in the morning, nothing much happened when it hit the floor. It didn’t splatter or leave the container, the container didn’t break or even dent and I didn’t have anything to clear up. It actually bounced. I quickly retrieved it, still exactly as it was before I dropped it.

It got me thinking though! What I realised was that if the margarine had been out all night, it would likely have melted somewhat, and made a mess on impact.

That could be a metaphor for us as people. Where have we been ‘all night’? What consistency are we, before any ‘disaster’ occurs? Will we fall apart or hold together? How can we come out of the fridge often and long enough to give of ourselves (to my raisin toast this morning) but remain essentially in an environment that nurtures us and makes us strong enough to cope, until we are all used up? My fridge is filled with great people, (the ability to find the great in everyone), freedom, (the ability to enjoy the freedom of even a few spare minutes or freedom of my thoughts) and learning from whatever and whomever I can. What’s in your fridge?

PS I wrote this, because I couldn’t stop myself; being a ‘writer’. “A writer is a person who writes”. Then I decided to use this thought for my post today so I can spend time editing past rambling ones instead. I don’t have a quote about butter however this seemed pretty close! I could rephrase it ‘Whenever you drop something, pick something else up, even if it’s just an idea’ – Emma Victoria Capell.

It’s tempting to keep writing (and digressing) on this subject, but today Less will have to be More.

Look and Change

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change – Wayne Dyer

Quantum physicists (or is it quantum mechanics?) back this up on a physical level. I am no expert on the subject of course, but it says that as we are all ultimately nothing but vibrating energy. There is no such thing as mass, nothing is solid. Objects therefore have a range of possibilities of position of where they could be and it is not until we look at something and our eyes lock onto it, that its position is defined. You might need to see the movie ‘What the bleep do we know‘ to have that one explained better. They explain all sorts of wondrous proven, scientific things that seem like magic, like how something can be in two places at the same time (they use light) and how if you talk to two bottles of pure water differently and look at them under a very powerful microscope the water will actually look different. One will look scary, for want of a better word and the other looks all beautiful (I would love to show you the images, once I learn how, maybe Google it). They then go on to explain that as we are 80% water ourselves, that negative talk and energy arranges our own water in such ways and can really affect us, so be careful what you allow yourself to be immersed in. This movie is linked to the secret which states the law of attraction, that what you think about most (with feeling and believing if you can manage it) will come to you, positive or negative. I can’t say for sure that it works but I know I would rather focus on the good and positive.

And of course I digress. For a more obvious example of why this quote is true for me, look at another person with love and then hate in your eyes and see how they react. They will change probably. Their body language will get defensive or welcoming or they will simply look confused. So simple, yet scary stuff. Similarly put on a pair of coloured sunglasses and see how things ‘change’. I always choose a certain colour brown lens when buying sunglasses because it makes the water look greener and I feel I am in Tahiti or somewhere more exotic.

One way to change the way you look at things is to focus on them and think about them, like actually listening to music in depth instead of using it for background music that barely registers. It’s the difference between hearing and listening, looking and seeing.

For example you could look at an inanimate object in a new way and think about its good qualities. You might decide that a simple piece of art that any child could have done or thought up, is actually a Picasso like work of art, brilliant on the deepest level. Then the thing you are looking at may change. You may want it, pay lots of money for it and convince others to do the same if you are a respected critic. It will become a valuable piece of work. The same object. Art galleries often leave me scratching my head but I think I get it. The art that gets you thinking and is the most original is sometimes worth the most. I think. Who looked at the works in such a way to deem them valuable enough to put in there?

I am always reminding myself that as thinking humans we have a huge filter on life, a unique paradigm that it is just as well to recognise right now, to avoid argument with others. Stephen Covey brought this to my attention 17 years ago with his story about the father and kids on the subway. The kids were playing up and onlookers saw it as bad parenting and were irritated until they learned that the mother had just died and the family were on their way home from the hospital, each acting out their grief in different ways. The onlookers then saw the same events differently.

For example my life’s experience has taught me to see a crumbly old building in Spain as a thing of great beauty and architecture, somewhere I would like to stay. However my kids, when shown the same image, deemed the building old, crumbling and therefore cheap. (I was amazed, we were playing a game called ‘Compatibility’ at the time and it brought this ‘filter’ to light. I thought we normally have such similar views).

How we look at things, this filter, changes gradually over the course of your life, hopefully to bring you peace and happiness. Remembering to make an effort to look for the good, rather than the bad will slowly change you. With Stephen Covey’s example the change was immediate. Snapping out of your critical thinking, realising it serves no one, especially yourself, and taking responsibility for your own filter is important. Examine it from time to time. Why do we cling on to beliefs that don’t serve us?

Have you ever had people to stay, maybe visit your country for the first time or your house and you start to look at your familiar surroundings with what you imagine to be their fresh eyes, to guess what they will think of it? I love doing that. When I go for my walk each morning (soon, now the sun is up) I try to remember that when I was growing up London, I would have given anything to come to this beautiful place and walk by the water to see the sun twinkling off it. When I change the way I am looking at my surroundings, the beauty then astounds me all over again. It is too easy to walk along, trapped in my thoughts and and miss the whole damn point of the walk. I can tell when I am off with the fairies because my iPod has shuffled to a song I don’t care for that much and I haven’t noticed until the end of it, let alone appreciated anything about it. I remind myself that if I were retired, I would truly enjoy these walks, that they would be a highlight of my day. So why aren’t they a highlight right now? So recently I have changed the way I look at my walk. It is no longer something to force myself into in the hope of getting thinner or fitter. It is something I want to do now. The walk has actually changed. It is so pleasurable. I hate to miss it now, in fact I even walked in the rain this week. Before I would have gone ‘Whoopee, good excuse not to go’.

Talking of which, I must go soon. This quote has reminded me once again to look at things with fresh eyes, to change the way I look at things that will serve me and my happiness levels. I don’t think I am naive or unrealistic or some kind of Pollyanna looking my hardest for the good. I see the crap and the injustice, the nonsense the hypocrisy etc in this world also. But it doesn’t have to be a source of huge immediate worry if you look at it in the right way. It serves no one if I watch all the sad stuff on the news and cry all day (as well I might). I would love to say I am the kind of person that goes on protest marches and has changed the course of history, but it is not going to happen just yet anyway. I won’t beat myself up about it and go around with a long face. That serves no one. I like to think that just as valuable a contribution, if on a very small level, is bringing fun, silliness and energy to the people around me. Get them smiling or thinking or even laughing. I will have to be content with that. Mother Theresa said ‘If you can’t feed all the poor, feed just one’ (or something similar).



Twinkle Twinkle You the Star

We are all of us stars and we all deserve to twinkle – Marilyn Monroe

This seems simple enough. I hope it really was by Marilyn – a persona so interesting that she was one of the stars that we had to study in Film Studies as part of my University (Economics – long story) degree. I wonder when they made the shift in Hollywood from creating a complete fake persona for the stars (think Joan Crawford and her angry children) to revealing all (Paparazzi) and trying to uncover the mystery of who each star is/was? Did we only learn about Marilyn after she died? We are still so fascinated after all these years yet you will rarely see one of her films. (I just asked my passing 15 year old son what he knew about Marilyn out of interest. “Blonde, American actress in the 50s or 60s. Overdosed.” Not an age of many words. That was it.) But I think our fascination with her is more that she was so vulnerable and miserable, yet seemingly so successful. What seemed to be the epitome of wealth, glamour, rubbing shoulders with the also powerful, interesting and intelligent, turned out not to be the recipe for happiness. Our illusions were shattered as the story slowly unfolded. Do many of us relate? Is that the fascination? We kind of know that the things we might aspire to do not ultimately bring happiness but we go for it anyway?

So this quote is probably by her. It is kind of wistful. Obviously she was a great star at the time but I think it shows she had great compassion for others, borne out of her own inner world. She is almost a precursor to Bridget Jones, now I think about it. Brave, pitied and showing who she is inside. Marilyn is saying that she is the same as everyone else; that she does not deserve to be the star any more than anyone else. She recognises star quality in other people, in their everyday traits. She must have been a real people person. The one thing I do remember about her from my course was that she was actually so smart that she was playing dumb because it worked for her. She was happy to do the ultimate dumb blonde, make herself over in name and looks, in order to get attention.

Writer and bloggers ‘make ourselves (our writing and output) over’. All artists work on their output, shaping and refining. (People make themselves over in some way. It’s natural.) Do we morph into the final edit? The final edit of any writing/artistic output should be a more successful version of the original blurt. We want to be more interesting, less all over the shop. Is our art like Marilyn’s? We take the potential of our inner writer/actor/artist then shape it, repackage it and set it loose on the world in some form. My question is ‘Does life imitate our art?’  If I could go back and really edit all my blogs, would I then become the person I have aspired to be who talks more succinctly, thinks before she speaks/publishes and sometimes makes a little more sense? Is that the joy of being any kind of creative artist?  Redefining ourselves?

On TED.com there is a mad scientist called Clifford Stoll. Think professor on Back to the Future. Wonderful, excited, enthusiastic man who can be a little hard to understand. He jumps up and down and covers so many different subjects (and floor area) in his talk. I didn’t understand it all but I was fascinated enough by the Klein bottle at least to look it up afterwards. Mostly I love Clifford, the loon. I want to hug him. I love the qualities in him which are the epitome of what I used to dislike in myself. His very presence on TED and his success taught me that it’s OK to be that way, no matter how many might be confused by him. He found his tribe. If you look closely at your friends or tribe, each will have qualities you admire which are actually qualities you have yourself. Think about why you love each person. Can you see that you have those qualities also? Appreciate them.

Boy I have completely digressed. What I understand from Marilyn is that everyone has qualities which may not always stand out but deserve nonetheless to twinkle and be recognised. She is almost telling us to stop putting stars on pedestals  but to realise that everyone deserves their own pedestal and to recognise that and appreciate yourself. Don’t subordinate yourself and give your power away. Turn your appreciation back to yourself. Wise words from a smart and compassionate lady!