Category Archives: Love
It’s usually played at remembrance ceremonies and funerals for soldiers. In some ways, this last post isn’t very different from that of a B bugle call playing in the distance as the sun rises to remember brave soldiers and battles fought.
Only this time around, it is my battle and not those I’d reflected on in remembrance.
In the past ten months, I found out I had cancer cells, had to sit around for six months waiting to hear if they got them all (which they did… I put it down to telling them to f#@* off), sustained an arm injury which tore me away from work and study for six months, was physically assaulted, someone deleted all my websites, I had to move house unexpectedly, couch and floor surfed for nearly four weeks and to put the cherry on top, was in my new house for two weeks and got broken into. And this list certainly doesn’t count all the other lemons, some of them just too damn bitter to recollect in an open forum.
Do you know what it’s like to feel like you’re losing your sanity? And you don’t even know why? To sit on a tram, only to turn around half way on the journey because you just couldn’t be around people? Finding every excuse in the world why you couldn’t, wouldn’t, just damn well didn’t want to see anyone. How going through a box of tissues in a day was normal and you became used to darkness descending at 7am, forcing a day under the covers in the hope you would wake up and it would all just be a bad dream.
I knocked back the anti-depressant prescriptions : I had a tried and tested tool of focussing on the small things that bring us to life. Besides, I didn’t need to add to the GDP to make Australia an even greater country. I withdrew from most of the world, including friends, was careful where I went, who I was with and what I was doing. I continued to sketch, write and outwardly seemed to be alive. Internally I was desperately trying to fight off the insanity of how I was feeling and it was only because I never forgot who was hidden inside that the embers kept alight.
Last year I celebrated my birthday by climbing Mt Agung in Bali, celebrating with friends on the coast and on returning home, had one fun karaoke night with some beautiful people, recognising the awesome of every page within my chapter 39.95. This year’s birthday, I struggled getting out of bed, I didn’t want to see anyone, managed to stretch myself for lunch and at the very last minute braved it in a room full of strangers at a story-telling night. The theme was turning points, and half way through the night, I decided to share a few of mine. You can’t have had a full life like mine and not had some turning points that have whipped your life 360°.
At the height of my stress levels and depression, the assault happened. Talk about hitting you when you’re down. Thank goodness #b03, a daily blog commitment, came along. Every day I sat, sometimes, all day, to pump out a post on something great that happened in the day or a reflection I had on the past. I credit this month, along with #MindfulinMay, for dragging me off the floor and keeping me focussed, on my writing, and my sanity. That, and a very humbling post from a wonderful friend who had taught me about purpose and owning your story and the comments from people when I made it to the final three of a blogging competition. They were all part of my turning point to understand the power of self-responsibility to take control. That and the realisation I was on a collision path.
This soldier was ready to stand up and start fighting. And again, whip my life 360°.
I started this blog when I accepted a challenge. I do have stories to share that could change the world, but this blog was always primarily to help me change my own world. Considering all the lemons that life had thrown at me, at first I wasn’t entirely sure I needed anymore challenges. So the preface was I would keep writing until I, or anyone else, didn’t need it anymore.
That time has come.
Over the past two years, I’ve never written for anyone else nor felt the need to promote my thoughts to the wider universe. It was my therapy. My passion. And my need to focus on the fact that life is unrelenting in its gifts of experience, people, opportunity and self.
I realised wealth and GDP prosperity are definitely not predictors of life satisfaction. We’re spending more money on ‘stuff’, making children’s hospital wards like first class resorts, building multi-million dollar social housing complexes and still don’t have enough, designing more prisons and detention centres, spending big on credit cards, destroying native forests with big trucks and large tools, spending more money on bicycles, house and car locks as theft increases, employing more police, consuming more food, alcohol and cigarettes, spending more money on pokies than on rates in many local council areas, donating more money to charities and yet have more social problems than ever before, destroying our natural wonders with mines and urban sprawl with excess for sale, earning more, still fighting the war in Afghanistan and our spending on anti-depressants is hitting all time highs. Yay : at 1371 billion dollars, we’ve got one of the highest GDPs on the planet. We should be so proud of ourselves spending all that cash so wisely… and happy.
As I reflect on my 158 bloody rippers over the past two years, I realise how so much of what makes life worthwhile is not measured : the innocence and joy of a young child, the strength of our relationships, the beauty of our art, digging out our courage, a breathe of fresh air in the midst of nature’s best, the setting of a sun. If our existence and success were measured by life’s joys, we’d all be abundant. And not just our country.
Despite the lemons, me and life have managed to still walk hand in hand:
- Finding old memories
- Bucket lists
- Completing my first biathlon
- Fridge notes can change the world
- The power of courage
- My first tattoo
- Noticing everything around you
- Letters to Santa
- New found love for sketching
- Top ten travel experiences
- Ten things I value
- The nurture of nature
- New year wrap-ups
- A better planet
- All the bloody rippers
With the setting down of the sun, I will remember them. I may need to come back to this safe space at some stage. But unlike global wars over the centuries that we just don’t seem to be able to learn from, it’s time to hold that mirror up and use every one of my darn lemons to push me into neutral territory.
As much as I appreciate social media for its ability to connect me to so many amazing people I have had the pleasure to cross paths, the doors it has opened, the information it has made available, the world it allows you to explore, and the access it provides to new opportunities, events and people, our friendship is going to take a small hiatus. At its core, it is an incredible resource, but right now, I need to commit to my own projects and not learn about others. I need to open my own doors and not simply peep into others. I’ve explored the world and it’s now time to start exploring my visions. I want photos with my friends because we’re out doing things together. I want to be able to come back from my hiatus taking action on my loves and not simply liking everyone else’s.
It’s time to say goodbye to the external forces and hello to the internal power.
A few years ago, I had a dream about a domain name : www.give.com.au. As a direct result of my experiences overseas, I spent a lot of money and time to build a pretty big fair trade website, working with projects I had visited and researched. I wanted to change the world, or at least make a small imprint on some communities that had made a huge impact on me. Fail. External and internal forces were at play and it’s only recently I came to the understanding I was never going to be able to sell hand bags : I hate shopping.
By understanding the power of my story, it is now I truly understand that before you can give to others, you must begin with yourself. You must be able to stand up in your own power and at the end of your life, whenever that may be, be proud of what you did, what you didn’t do, who you loved, what you let go of, what you accepted, where you went, who you journeyed with and the person you were. All the ideas I have had over the last few years will now be married to create a new www.give.com.au : one that encourages you to give to self, and others. My journey has allowed me to meet the people I needed to meet to make this happen, and for once in my life, I’m putting my hand out to accept some help.
I want to give my writing purpose in a new way, leaving the scope of my life and the joy it brings to focus on some inspiring people that know what it’s like to find purpose. Before I never cared about who read what I wrote. Now I do. I want to start work on my biography. And I want to create some really fun projects allowing others the space to give to themselves… every little part of them and not just a glory box of stuff. www.thedinnertable.com.au is a big part of that : bringing people together to share, connect and create. I still want to change the world in a small way and everything I do will have that as its underlying glue.
The biggest opportunity we have on the planet right now is not to solve any of the world’s greatest problems. It is to inspire a society of change-makers. That change-maker starts with me.
Right now, I’m so glad I’ve had 43 jobs, travelled to 43 countries, have some amazing people in my life, have lost count of the amazing experiences I have had, stood up and fought the battles and now lay down my weapon of choice for the past two years to get on with it.
Three days ago, my friend Richard who had already done so much for me by allowing me to explore purpose in a three day retreat, again put out his helping hand and invited me to a Real Leadership workshop. One of the activities was to pull out from a large selection three pictures that represented three timeframes, one story. With a grin, Rich heckled me for doubling the selection, knowing only too well that in this case, I needed to own my story.
In short, the past is represented by the darkness of which I believe is an important part of my story as well as the strength to stand up from the battle and move forward. The loose threads of my life have been ripped apart to now allow me the ability to bring them all together as a conduit towards the future. I can’t do it alone, I need variety, and I welcome everyone else’s playlists to inform and inspire the future journey. No matter how far apart, how little time we spent together or how close we are, I thank those deeply who have travelled with me on the journey so far and welcome those who are yet to come. And as for the future? One of my favourite films is “Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter… and Spring”. Through stunning cinematography, it is a journey through life’s lessons and at the moment I feel embedded in the contrast of those seasons. I want to continue that journey, knowing I have some handy tools to keep the weeds at bay and there’s going to be one garden I am now ready to focus on… and I want it to flourish.
As for right now, it’s off into the spring sunshine to sit and design “A Beautiful Day” and a gratitude project as required of my Masters in Wellness and then plan to make them happen. Who ever thought when you decided to study at university for the first time in your life, you would be allowed to write about what you’ve written about for two years… just when you’re playing the last post.
Life… it can be so
you bloody ripper!
To Richard, Angie, Glenda, Gregory, Michelle, Steph, Damien, Dani, Yvette, Nynke, Inge, Aaron, Carol, Adam, Diana, Jarrod, Kal, Mike, Annie, Linnet, Calm in the City, Mindful in May, #b03, SLAMALAMADINGDONG! Poetry Slam, Arts in Action, Stillwaters, Enchanted Evenings and The Holos Group. Thank you for being my brakes.
This month I’ve signed up to pause for a cause and have joined a one month meditation campaign, Mindful in May.
With a number of turbulent events happening in my life, a few weeks ago I was having difficulty sleeping. At 3.30am I felt the urge to pick up my iphone and within 15 minutes had typed my first ever poem. I then drifted off into a very deep sleep.
I’m still not sure exactly where Core came from, but sometimes what we need is shown to us from sources external to ourselves. Or perhaps in this case internal. I obviously needed to get back to core.
A few days later, I head about the Mindful in May campaign and was excited there was an opportunity for me to commit and redevelop a habit and connection with mindfulness. I sent Core off to the beautiful founder of MIM, Elise Bialylew and was honoured to be asked if the poem and my profile could be included in a future newsletter.
In appreciation of Mindful in May, this month’s blogs will be dedicated to mindfulness. Every second day, I will share my daily experiences of mindfulness. At the launch, we were given a journal with a specific focus each week, including being mindful of the body, breath, sounds, thoughts and others. As I normally pay attention to the small stuff (this blog is filled with it) I’m expecting to take the awareness to another level: to really feel and notice the sensations, thoughts and feelings of everything I do.
As to my thoughts on meditation? Here’s my response to Elise’s questions:
1. What led you to meditation?
With a right brain permanently on overdrive, for most of my life, my relationship with meditation has mostly been stop/start/stop. That was until 2008 when I was given a long-term diagnosis by a specialist. Rather than taking his words as gospel, I packed my bags and relocated to the country for 12 months. One day I was rugged up and when hearing a knock, struggled to the door. That opening changed my life, not only helping me to manage my symptoms, but the anxiety of not being able to do what I wanted to do. Behind the door, was a neighbour who also was a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) facilitator who just happened to be commencing a new course the following week. The eight week program helped ground me during a difficult time and the tools that I learned have proved invaluable ever since. I’d like to go back and tell that specialist instead of telling patients “life will never be the same” to direct them to other forms of wellness practices, like meditation, that can support people not only through difficult periods, but in every day life. I’d also like to tell him something else, but I don’t think I can write that here
2. What value has practising meditation brought to your life?
I must admit that I do still stop/start/stop. Although it is definitely a little less on the stop side and a little more on the STOPP (stop, take a breath, observe, proceed, practise) side. My right brain still wanders. My emotions still run a marathon most days. But by developing skills in mindful body awareness, I am learning to stop myself before the situation gets out of control. I have recently been through a number of stressful situations, and have filled my days with some long periods of silence to help reground and take back control.
Mindfulness is not about living in the now, but being in the now. It is about constantly drawing your attention back to what you are doing. I think people confuse that. You can be mindful while writing a business plan for a future project or reflecting on a past stressful time in your life. Mindfulness is being aware of what you are doing at any given time, and giving your attention to that. Guaranteed you will do a better job and enjoy things more if you’re not thinking about what you have to do tomorrow. Your relationships will be stronger, you will get more done and life will be so much more greater when you allow yourself to appreciate and observe everything that happens in your day.
3. How has meditation supported you in your professional life?
I find this a little more difficult as you may be able to control yourself, but it is more difficult when others are involved. When you are around others who don’t understand mindfulness, it is not easy to be influenced by their needs and pressing requirements. Others believe they are mindful, and yet are influenced by their iPhones letting them know there are messages/tweets/things to do… even when you are meeting them. I’d like to say that my mindfulness practise extends fully into my professional life, however, I do struggle with this. Like anything you want to be good at, you need to keep practising, so next time I want to rip someone’s phone away from them when in a meeting, or when someone says they’ll do something and they don’t, I just need to be more mindful of my response. And learn to mindfully let go.
4. What are the biggest obstacles to your practice?
Learning how to manage your response, both internally and with communication, when others are constantly living a life behind or in front. I haven’t quite got there yet, but I continue to work on it.
Also, if I need some serious meditation time, I quite often withdraw from the world. With a world that continually takes us away from ourselves, it is not always so difficult to raise the hand for time out. It means educating those around you that you need space and your world doesn’t revolve around a phone or social media. I’ve written about this when I cleared my inbox to 0. It’s still at 0 by the way. I’ve also started turning my phone off for 24 hour periods. It’s certainly a hands on the wheel approach to taking back control and clearing the road for getting things done more efficiently when you come back online. The world doesn’t stop. But you can.
5. What is a quote that most inspires you and why?
Quotes don’t particularly inspire me. Life does.
But I would like to share this poem that I have in my home office that was given to me during the MBSR course.
It’s about facing your fears so you don’t have to spend the rest of your life being afraid.
Because fear and regret are two of the saddest words in the English language.
Suppose what you fear
could be trapped
and held in Paris.
Then you would have the courage
to go everywhere in the world.
All the directions of the compass
open to you,
except the degrees east or west
of true north
that lead to Paris.
Still, you wouldn’t dare
to put your toes smack dab
on the city limit line.
And you’re not really willing to stand on a mountainside
and watch the Paris lights
come up at night.
And just to be on the safe side, you decide to stay completely
out of France.
But then danger
seems too close
even to those boundaries,
and you feel the timid part of you
covering the whole globe again.
You need the kind of friend
who learns your secret and says,
“See Paris first.”
—M. Truman Cooper
6. What is a book that has opened you to new ideas and inspired your growth and why?
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
And my favourite line:
On ne voit bien qu’avec le couer, l’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux”.
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.
To really have the best chance at living this life, you really need to understand what the essential is. The Little Prince encourages the reader to explore themselves and the outside world to find purpose, colour and the essentials of our individual life. As we grow up, we lose the exploring eyes of a child. What better way to find them than through an explorative narrative of the human experience via a children’s book.
And via mindfulness.
7. What mindful music do you listen to (ie. music that grabs your full attention and brings you into the moment.)
Soul sung from soul inspires me. Anything sung from a place of self encourages the listener to reconnect and be mindful of self. Lately, I’ve been listening to Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu.
The right brain still works in overdrive and is stimulated by all creative outlets. I’m trying to teach myself the keyboard and I find that it does allow my mind to freeze frame, focussing on the chords and what music I can create. I also started sketching last year, and find this one of the most powerful forms of meditation for me. I don’t use an eraser, so I find the half hour I may spend doing a sketch completely transforms my mind to one of stillness as I focus on the image and seeing what I can create. At the end of the sketch I often wonder how I did it, particularly as I don’t seem to think… it just seems to flow.
There’s nothing more life-changing to find a form of meditation that totally brings you into the moment, allows your entire body and mind to flow and hits both the defrag and reset buttons all in one go.
So that’s why I’ve signed up for Mindful in May. A BIG thank you to Elise and Jenny for developing and facilitating such a wonderful initiative. I hope through my posts you may be encouraged to find out a little more about mindfulness – Mindful in May is certainly a wonderful starting point.
I’m excited about the extra small sensations and observances I am about to experience.
Actually, I think all those small things are only going to make my days a whole lot bigger.
you bloody ripper!
Today, I attended a poetry workshop facilitated by community poet, Padraig O’Tuama. The workshop was to develop skills in writing stories of sorrow and sadness, inspired by the words of others, particularly in the community sector.
We were asked at the beginning to share a line from a poem or poet that took us somewhere. I responded with the notion that everything inspires me: I am an observer of life and the world around me. And that is what inspires my words.
After five hours sitting in space, being provided with space, words inspired thought and thought created words.
Today, I understood the true power of words to take you somewhere.
Words are so much more than a jumble of letters.
With Padraig’s permission, I took the basis of the workshop and crafted the words of others with those of my own, scrawled with pen on paper over the course of the afternoon and those spinning round in my head after an extra long walk home due to being so lost in words, I missed my tram stop.
As I write, I will inspire thought. And thought will create words.
Held in their collided form, words have power.
No one likes a collision.
But they make you stop.
Where have words taken you?
The recesses of a dark alley
Where no light shines?
Is painful paradox
What is needed
To make us change?
Sanitised death or the
Of a life fully lived
Through love and pain
Experience and shame
Fear of letting go
Like a balloon floating to the sky
I say thank you
Knowing that I will not hold you again
Words inspire thought and
Thought creates words.
Blank pages left for the
I hope your grips are firm.
Not all slopes are slippery
They are simply steep.
Keep going. Up.
So that a path may be revealed before you
And glad that there are gladder days beyond these days
Because you were born
And you will learn most from situations
Did not choose
Have you been telling secrets that
Should not have been told?
Do you want to hear the truth?
Don’t tell anyone.
I can’t tell anyone.
I want to listen to you.
I am trying to listen to you.
I still am listening to you.
I really want to listen to you.
Do you hear?
What if she was your daughter?
I don’t want you to listen.
I want you to hear.
Lost in the abyss of first world problems
And old world dreams.
The smack sellers
sleep in the park
Their pain perhaps
Not quite fully understood
By the family dwellers
Will their mothers keep inviting them back
Again and again and again
Do they even know they’re there?
Do they even care.
Why do we feel the need
To resolve a human story
Can it not be simply lived?
A story does not express
The finality of a story.
It is the instrument you choose
In the morning
Which shifts the story.
Sadness and darkness
Bundled in a box of glory
Thank you for your gifts.
Joy. Elation. Silence.
These are the instruments I choose.
Where there is space
There is thought.
And where there is need
Don’t just do something,
Give voice to the voices
Silenced by the lies and secrets
Of untold paths
And words not told.
How do I know you are who you say you are
When you lie only to yourself.
If you can survive, survive it well
The facts of life
And stories of locked out lovers
Lamenting lost keys.
Where there is no program or title
The privilege of space
Has provided your key.
Cry in the bathroom
With a black coat hiding
The colour underneath.
When words take you somewhere
Do they really take?
Or do they give?
Where do words take you?
Just let them take you,
Today, instead of being an observer of life, I became an observer of words.
Inspired by Padraig, other participants of the course, space and the words that cut through the air and my own thoughts, this poem is witness to the untold stories of sorrow, lost love, conflict, allowing oneself to let go and the experience of being human.
The collision of words resulted in one accidental poem.
3.30 am – you will never look the same.
you bloody ripper!
You may not see them every day.
Likely you won’t see them every year.
They may not live in the same city as you.
They may not even be in the same country.
They always make you laugh.
You feel connected, despite the distance.
You deeply wish they were here.
They are never far from your thoughts.
you bloody ripper!
Last week I realised yesterday was a public holiday to commemorate the eight hour work day. As I’m struggling doing any work at the moment, thought it an ideal opportunity to celebrate by doing no work. It was time to rewire the frazzle of the past few months to ensure all connectors were back in the right place.
It’s been a while since I took a road trip. The only reason I keep my car is so I can take road trips on the odd occasion. Parked in the drive for most of the year, it provides me with a permanent sense of freedom, only a key turn away.
After my last gig of ‘helping’ on Sunday morning, I headed out to the Kinglake National Park. I’d never been there before, and with 98% of the park destroyed during the Black Saturday fires, I had no idea what I would find. All I knew is there would be fresh air, space, regrowth and a chance for phase one rewiring to commence.
There’s nothing like that first breath of eucalypt forest to clear out the dust that has settled due to long gaps between escapes. As it was almost time for the sun to set, on arriving in Kinglake, it was time for a quick meal before heading deep into the Robertson State Forest for an elusive (and probably illegal) camping spot.
There is one part of the daily cycle that never fails to disappoint when you are in the country: it’s city cousin can never compete in the magic of a night sky. Tonight I felt in true awe of the power nature has to energise, reform and bring back from the dead. As I sat on the barren earth, I observed the new life pushing its way through the blackened trunks of a forest that had died, resurrecting itself into a maze of new life sprouting from any where it could find. The moon looked like it was swathed in a deep orange velvet cloak, ready to entertain the million sequinned dinner guests, and one willing observer.
There are more important things than what people do each day. Rewiring phase one complete.
Awaking refreshed the next morning, it was time for a walk. Unfortunately, most of the tracks and camping areas have not been rebuilt since the fires. Heading into Kinglake National Park, there was a small 3.5km track open to the peak of Mt Sugarloaf. Not exactly a 2000m plus mountain I was used to climbing, nonetheless, I threw on my boots and headed off to conquer Sugarloaf.
The view from the ridge of a sea of blackened trunks gave a clear indication of the extent of the fires. As I opened the air vents in my hiking pants and sat on a burned log, I closed my eyes and felt the power of nature’s force. On opening, I reflected on that force emulating the struggles of all humanity and the desire to not be destroyed, to co-exist, to survive, to create miracles.
When you find yourself in a dark place, if you wait for a while and listen, you will find yourself again. We are all born with the ability to create new life and survive. Rewiring phase two complete.
After waving at Melbourne in the distance, I began to head down the same path when I hit a crossroads. On investigation, I decided the awkwardly placed red tape and ‘this track is currently under restoration’ didn’t really tell me not to enter. Besides, as I too was under restoration, perhaps we could both test out how much we both needed work by a moderate – difficult 6.5km shared journey. The worst that could happen was I give up and head back to the top and hitch a ride down to the base of the mountain. Having broken my cardinal rule of always carrying enough water, I was more worried about the 100ml left in the bottle. So I opted for the tortoise and a slow and steady pace to win the race.
Three hours later, I hit the bottom carpark. I passed no one. I meditated for 20 minutes at the base of the valley surrounded by blackened trees on either side. I crossed paths with Mountain Creek, and on dipping in my fingers and meeting a surprisingly warm sensation, walked for 100m, stripped off and lay in the water for half an hour under the rays of a warming autumn sun. I was glad the ferns were reconquering land that had been theirs for centuries, I could shout out loud and feel so insignificantly powerful in a new landscape created by significant force.
After a very sweaty afternoon of 10km of hills and climbs, with the sun only having another 1 ½ hours of light, it was time to head to the only re-opened National Parks camp site in the area: the Gums. I’d read it was by a mountain stream, and with ½ hour of driving, it was time to head straight there and hopefully get in an evening bathe under the rays of the setting sun.
With no one else at the site, and having spent a day immersed in the power of nature, who was I not to get back to nature in its most simple form. Stepping into the freezing mountain stream, I found a spot to safely sit and convey my deepest thanks for a cleansing day of country air, silence broken only by the chorus of birds creating a symphony of shrills, the aching thighs and empty mind.
Nature has a way of stripping you bare. Rewiring complete.
You bloody ripper!
Have you ever met a person that lives life exactly the way they want to? A person who thrives on fun, generosity, health and constantly inspires others in their ability to exude pure joy in the pursuit of pleasure and experience?
Nic is one of those people. He makes people smile. He makes people believe they can do anything.
Critically injured in a kite boarding incident, Nic has severe head injuries and has been placed in an induced coma. This is where I ask for your help.
It would be really bloody ripper if you could send a positive thought to help pull him through. Healing energy does work, and along with the thoughts of his family, friends, anyone who has ever been inspired by him (me included) and your small thoughts of positive healing, Nic will continue to prove life is for living. He’d be going crazy doing nothing.
Repeat after me: “Nic, you really will hate the hospital food when you wake up. There’s much to be done, so get up and on with it. Positive vibes, healing and love heading your way”.
There is power in the mass.
you bloody ripper! (with your help)
I’m the first to admit that 2011 didn’t go exactly as planned and I wouldn’t particularly rate it as momentous. I’d committed myself to stay focussed on centre this year, and for the second half of the year, I did. I’ve never really done that before and what a rollercoaster ride it set me on. Yes, you can. No, you can’t. I got things wrong. I dodged curve balls. I forgot about relevance and calibrated.The pictures at the end of the ride would have showcased one loud scream: get me off.
So before I rush off from last year, forget about it, and move on by writing a big long list of all the things I’d like to do this year, I felt a little need to recognise what did happen.
So in no particular order, here goes my 2011 bloody ripper wrap up from which to boldly take ten key lessons with me into the new year.
1. Learned how to say no
No and I have never had an easy relationship. It’s pretty easy to say and yet I’ve always had a problem getting it out. When I realised mid-year that I was in a job I didn’t apply for, saying yes too many times and no to everything I wanted to do, it was time to say a very fervent no, not just to the job, but to all that wasn’t taking me in the direction I wished to head. I realised I had yes exhaustion and really had to learn the meaning, and benefits, of no. I think I’m getting there. I’ve said no to lots of events, requests and people these past six months. I even told worry to fuck off. Saying no to others allows one to proclaim yes to self.
2. Went to university
I’ve never been to university. Work, life and opportunity always seemed to have got in the way. This year, I decided I wanted to learn a new skill I could take with me anywhere and allow me to make some money so I could commit to my writing. In the second half of the year, I was so busy saying yes to myself that I realised I was doing two Diplomas and a Masters in Wellness. As well as working. And attempting to write. Woah. Apart from needing to get a little balance on the yes/no relationship, I realised that I loved to learn. It helped the studies had purpose, and not just because I needed a job out of school. Never be too old to stop asking why.
3. Love… actually…
It’s not happened very often in my life when I see someone from a distance and their energy makes me want to meet them. And meet them I do. I recall him saying “it will be fun”. I remember walking away from that offer and one hour later, grieving and writing condolences for my loss of spontaneity and randomness. Eight months later, that person is still in my life. He doesn’t need to be in my life every day. I don’t need to know his every movement. To close the open hand is hard. Love… actually… is a deep respect for another human being that simply allows them to be themselves. To not expect them to be someone else. For then they would not be the one you love… actually… accept others for who they are, because of what they bring.
4. Completed a mission
My mission is detailed in Chapter 39.95, its success here. After riding around on the back of a motorbike for half a day, I managed to meet Nyoman, the moto driver, Ketut, his daughter and her baby son. Whilst looking at the family photo album, Ketut brought me another book with a photograph of her prior to the operation, and my Dad. Nyoman started to cry, dug into his pocket and pulled out the driver’s license I had earlier returned, passing it back into my hands. “I miss your Daddy. He is a good man. You tell your Daddy to come and find me, like you found me.” Closure provides a door waiting to be opened.
5. Failures and demons
Like most years, I learned a lot in 2011. When I decided to go it alone, I learned how much better I am doing things for other people and not myself. I’ve learned I’m my own worst enemy. I’m far too independent. I admit I procrastinate when I sit in a room by myself. I confess I have let people down and am not afraid of sending out the apologies. I’ve dug out a few skeletons, brushed off a few chips and am still working on a few demons. I’ve said I’d do things. And didn’t. My hand is up high. No one is perfect. Everyone grows.
Thanks to my local council, I opted in for a ten week outdoor exercise program at my local park. Thanks to some wonderful friends, I stuck a second hand up for some Nia dance lessons. Over the last couple of months in the year, I’ve pedalled, swum, run, boxed, tapped, walked and squatted. Now the classes have finished, I miss it. My body and mind miss the adrenalin, stress relief, meditation and feeling of knowing I’d pushed just enough. Push some more.
7. Asked for help
It didn’t matter the request came back negative. I asked. Ask again.
I never thought I could draw. After picking up a pencil mid-way through the year, quite often I’ll be found curled up on a couch or under a tree with a sketch book. A few people have suggested they’re not too bad and I should take lessons to learn a few finer skills. I thought about it. I won’t. I like being one with an image and a blank canvas. It’s my meditation. I don’t need to seek perfection. Love what you do. Do what you love. Love what YOU love.
9. Climbed a volcano
It wasn’t a momentous year, but it nailed a momentous 40th birthday. With my yes exhaustion, I decided to head to Bali for some rest and relaxation. A few weeks out, I was determined to find myself a challenge to complete: and a 3100m volcano had my name on it. Commencing the ascent at 1.00am on the morning of my birthday, I climbed with the only female guide on the mountain. One foot in front of the other, a small headlamp beam providing the only glimpses of tropical growth and volcanic rock. The moon was hidden, and the hope of a magic sunrise slowly retreated as rain began its unwelcome fall. I had done a month’s half-hearted training before leaving Australia and spent the two days prior to climbing wandering around the hills of Bali’s central region.
One foot in front of the other. I was exhausted. Fear had crossed my path countless times. “Tina, we have 800m to go. It is the most difficult part of the climb. When you are ready we will go”. It was then I sat down and cried. An accumulation of fear swept through me: the fear I had felt as I’d slipped down a wall of loose rocks, the fear of coming down in the morning when it was light and seeing the vastness below me, my legs that could hardly move, the fear of again having to push myself, myself. “I can’t do it.” And I cried some more. “It is up to you Tina. You came here for a reason and it is your choice if you achieve that reason.”
Damn it. As the tears continued to fall, I began to laugh. I realised what I’d put people through. I realised the belief I have had in others, but never myself. I’d never climbed a mountain by myself. I didn’t like it. “There’s a boiled birthday egg to be had on top of that mountain. Let’s go.” Those shear rock walls that weren’t walked but free climbed, in the pitch darkness, were totally insane. I got there. To an unbelievable sunrise. I believe I can fly.
10. My biggest regret
This year I retreated – online and offline. In a world of information overload, I felt the necessity to step back and find more wisdom from within. As a creative person who has spent a good working lifetime helping others with creative ideas for their projects, apart from this blog and my new found appreciation of pencils, I have neglected to explore my creativity in the pursuit of my own projects. Two weeks ago, when I asked for help (and remember I got a no), I sat down and thought if my last test results weren’t so good and I was looking at a terminal illness, what would I regret? I went back to my ten things of value. Without hesitation, I answered that question. I thank my withdrawal for allowing me the space to be influenced by self. As much as I love my study, I’ve deferred the majority of my studies for next year. It’s time.
Now that’s all out in the air, it’s time for my 2012 resolutions
1. Get on with it!
you bloody ripper!
Blank page. Strange considering the thousands of thoughts wandering my brain – space, freedom, and silence have a tendency of doing that. It is New Year’s Eve after all: a time for reflection, resolution and promises.
What makes 01 January such a special day? Why is it that this day provides us with an excuse to make change, be a better person, remove old habits, release old pain and plan new beginnings? Is tomorrow just another day, like the other 364? Isn’t every moment the beginning of the rest of our life?
Having spent the last five days appreciating the fresh air, tranquility and beauty of the Australian Alps, I have enjoyed not only the visual space the mountains provide, but the space to lose oneself in selfish retrospection, appreciation for all that is strong and belief that within us all, lays a powerful spirit that when unleashed, can move mountains.
Having walked 37km over a couple of days and with the final 22km walk to the peak of Victoria’s second highest mountain still on the agenda, there has been plenty of time to dispel redundant thoughts with each step. It’s why I came. To allow oneself the opportunity to feel insignificant amongst the momentous, certainly helps to put things into perspective.
Three days ago, I stood at the 1897m peak of Mt Loch and surveyed the dots below indicating ski huts, hotels, lodges and people. I fully appreciated the power of self and reflected on the insignificance of the dots that follow us through our lives: the patterns, the stories, the broken lines, the inability to recognise, the beauty reduced to a chaotic sketch where nothing is clear.
As I turned 360, I saw the peak of Feathertop beckoning my footsteps to greet it. In its exposed face, reflected the challenges, obstacles, shadows, scars and pain of my own life. As I allowed myself to reconnect with the familiarity of the physical and emotional qualities of any demanding journey, I was also reminded of the courage, perseverance, commitment and ultimate reward of one step at a time.
As I began to write this story, I thought its message would be the need for us to dismiss the insignificant from our lives – the dots, the stories, the fuzzy lines, the small stuff. But as I sit in the comfort of my lodge and look across the valley to the same peak I felt so powerful on reaching, my view, once again, has turned 360. You see, I now need the binoculars to clearly identify the peak. Yes, the same peak that made me feel powerful, courageous and committed, is now merely an insignificant dot in the distance.
I have always been one to focus on my successes, to strive for success, to push myself to extreme limits, both to prove to myself and others that I can climb mountains. However, looking back at the mountain right now, I realize that all that has been small in my life has also been a big part of shaping the person that I have become. For the first time in years, I have an overwhelming sense of serenity.
From 2004 to 2006, I took a sabbatical from the normality of life, finding total fulfillment in a journey that not only allowed me to travel the world, but an inner journey that brought me total joy, inner peace, fun, freedom and a new found belief in self. On returning to Australia and moving to a new city, I felt lost in the vastness of an energy that pushes away rather than attracts. Not to say I didn’t have some wonderful friends, but I also found myself unable to deeply connect with anyone – I was trying to fit in to a world that I did not.
And so for the past three years while overcoming illness, removing demons, shaking monkeys and reconnecting with myself, I have also been forever hopeful of a magical answer, a potion of solution, perhaps even a person of strength to come into my life and provide a cure to fill all that was missing.
The last year has been particularly difficult: the emotion, the people, the decisions, the lack of action, the failure, the circumstance. Three months ago, I was on the verge of emotional, physical and financial exhaustion. Never had I felt so alone, uncertain of the direction in which to take my life, a deep sense of sadness for the lack of family in my life, the lack of balance and my profound desire for community and connection.
At a point of absolute desperation, I took myself away to a place of healing and painfully dissected all that had held me back, caused me pain and given me courage. I battled with myself like never before, but instead of heavy scars, found myself adorned with a sense of new direction and inner peace. My life has turned 360, and I finally feel I have reached my own peak.
I began this story with the aim of erasing the dots scattered throughout the past 38 years. However, sitting in the safety and comfort of what was a dot three days ago, appreciate that they can and do, in the future, provide us with comfort, safety and fond memories.
Looking back at the mountain, I recognise that we need to enjoy and place value on the small things and realise the significance they do and will play in our lives. We also need to have commitment and resilience to overcome challenges and not be afraid to push through the pain in order to achieve success and the rewards that are granted once we reach the peak. Even our angst, darkest moments, concerns and deepest fears are significant. They form part of who we are and without them, we would not learn to fully appreciate the greatest joys, loves and moments in our lives. Our life would be filled with the ordinary rather than an opportunity for the extraordinary to exist, even in a single moment.
I am committed to climb all mountains I may find myself at the base of, but I no longer feel the necessity to do it with everything in my life – there is no need to prove to anyone anymore, especially myself. I am no longer afraid to open up the dots that form my life to those who bring meaning to my life: the significance and impact they have had are just as important as any mountains I have climbed.
I finally understand that what may give us strength today, may not exist tomorrow. What may at one point in our life, allow us to feel the might and power of success and completion, may be insignificant tomorrow. I comprehend there is no longer need to attach myself to the meaning or irrelevance of mountains or dots.
Too often we stand, paintbrush in hand, with the ability to design our life with all the colour, acquisitions and accomplishments we desire. Is there not as much, if not more pleasure in, the sharing of the journey, the value of our thoughts, the sensations that arise, the blending of the hues? Perhaps small dots compared to the consequence of attainment, but definitely necessary to experience and appreciate if we are to ever create balance in our lives.
The strength gained from the depths of depression can be as powerful as an 1897m climb. The significance of a glance, a touch, a simple word, the sharing of thought can be just as meaningful as a wedding portrait.
As I look out the window at a sun setting not only on this day, but on one difficult year, I have no desire to be a better person, ask for anything, release anything, remove any habits or plan any new beginnings. After many years trying to find it, I am merely thankful to have come to the realisation that balance in one’s life exists within us every day. It is simply a matter of perspective.
you bloody ripper
written New Years Eve 2009
I can’t draw.
There was no way I was going to distort anyone’s face, period.
Anyone can draw. Come on. At least do a stick figure.
And so began my new found passion for a blank piece of paper and a 2B pencil.
For far too long, my left brain has been in charge: organising, planning and directing, ruling the majority of my decisions and judgements. It needed to be let loose.
Never had I experienced anything that quietened my brain to the point I become one with observation, focussed on the angles of the nose, the curl of the lips, the shadows and lines that hid stories and life.
On a recent trip to Bali, I decided to curl in a hammock and spent the morning sketching a photograph I had taken the evening before.
And now I just can’t stop. People want me to draw their portraits. I don’t promise masterpieces. And I appreciate the opportunity to create and unwind.
I’ve found that drawing is an organic process that takes a blank page and allows one to observe, express, interpret and reinterpret. As the lines appear on the page, so does the magic of creation.
So now you’re stuck with me writing and posting up my sketches every once in a while.
When was the last time you created something from a blank piece of paper? A blank screen? A blank mind?
When was the last time you tried something new?
Go on. Who knows what you may find.
you bloody ripper!
Is your alarm set for the same time every day? Do you take the same route to work? Have you had the same colours in your wardrobe for the last five years? When is the last time you spoke to a stranger in the street or on a crowded tram? Have you done anything spontaneous recently when there was a blank slot in your schedule? Do you even leave a blank slot in your schedule?
For many years, my life was far from a routine schedule, filled with random, ridiculous and raunchy events. I created, invited myself, rarely thought of consequence, said yes, spoke to strangers, braved opportunities, side stepped conformity and lodged protests at stagnation. Due to my willingness to flirt with randomness, my personal story is filled with stories. With life.
I have one tattoo on my body. It says ‘no ordinary life’. It defines me as an individual along with my approach to randomness. For it is in randomness that one can find great opportunities to discover, extend and learn about one’s self, share interesting conversation, break routine, provide spontaneity and convey balance into an otherwise predictable life. An ordinary life.
And yet yesterday, I said no. I said no to randomness.
Lately, I’ve been making a concerted effort to say no to jobs, requests and people that don’t connect to my passion and purpose. And yet here I was saying it to the right place, to the right person, to the right opportunity and to the right reasons.
As I began to question my choice to dispel randomness from my life, after half an hour of driving my ‘tough love’ friends were ready to push me hard by turning around the car and taking me back to the source of my battle. I said no. I laid down at the front line. I went silent. I cried.
I realised my loss. Of randomness.
And comtemplate this loss I did. all night. The conclusion?
I believe in living a life outside the box: for in this space, there are no boundaries. I realised that of late, I had pushed myself back inside the box. I was trying so hard to say no for the right reasons, I was also saying it for the wrong reasons.
I realised I was slipping in my strategies to ensure a life filled with awesomeness, and dare I say it, life. Yick. It’s a bit uncomfortable inside that box.
If coincidence and randomness cause you to feel that you may be part of something important and special to your life, say yes. If you fear that it comes with disappointment, seclusion or grief, push through it. And say yes. If it ends up that way, so be it. Learn. Grow. Experience. What’s the alternative? Comfort, the been there before, excuses, the safe route, routine, regret, missed opportunity, an unknown, ordinary.
Don’t be afraid to show your bold, passionate and random self to the world by being pulled outside the box. You, and the rest of us, needs it. Stir up all the stagnation and add some colour back into your life. Imagine all the places you can go, the experiences you will have, the people you will meet, the life you will have.
Which direction will you choose? Are you willing to turn a blind corner and see where it will take you?
Are you willing to hold the sliding door open a little longer, and step inside?
you bloody ripper!