Category Archives: Everyday Rippers
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!
Got my teeny bag packed and I’m ready to go.
What? You’ve got a sleeping bag, clown pants, Elmo t-shirt and your butterfly hat is making a comeback? And they’re all in that bag?
It’s time for random and ridiculous to make a comeback!
I’m off to NSW on a road trip with four strangers, volunteering with Dr Froth at the Incredi-Bubble Festival in Corowa.
My job description:
- responsibubble for the happiness of little ones
- Incredibubble activity
- Bubble fountain
- Serving everyone’s joy
- Collecting and sharing stories of your insights and delights
- Resting and replenishing your joy and vibrancy
- Having a ball
I love job descriptions that make people and life come alive.
I love road trips for their randomness.
And I’ve got a feeling this one is going to be full of surprises and a whole heap of fun. Bring on the happiness of little ones… and big ones!
Oops… better squeeze in the toothbrush.
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!
Travelling broadens the mind. Travelling takes one to new places. Travelling allows new experiences. But for some, a journey abroad is part of an inner journey – a journey that takes one deeper than that into an exotic jungle or into the narrow alleyways of a new city. It is a journey taken within. It is a journey of inner growth, personal motivation and inspiration.
A few years ago, I had the incredible privilege of taking people on challenge trips around the globe, away from their comforts, their securities and their every day lives.
Vicki’s story is one that I lived, heard and researched, both during the trip and after, particularly as I taped her feet each night and encouraged her to push through whatever it was that was holding her back.
Not only did Vicki embark on a journey to a foreign land, but she took a journey within and come back inspired, determined and with a new found belief in what she could achieve.
I thought it was about time to share her story, particularly as I plan on writing more bios of some inspirational change-makers.
Through this journey, it is hoped that you too will find your inner strengths, follow your dreams, harness your potential, find your passion and live every day vividly.
Be inspired by this journey within to live a life less ordinary, for the extraordinary is within us all.
There once was a woman named Vicki who for the first 15 years of her adult life spent it home alone. Work, then home, then bed, too scared to even go out to the pub for a drink with her work mates. Vicki used her family and her dog as an excuse to go home. Until no one asked anymore.
In January 2005, Vicki decided to undertake a challenge – to fundraise $5000 for Guide Dogs and complete a challenge trip in China. In May 2006, Vicki travelled 80km on the Great Wall of China and climbed one of China’s five holy Tao Mountains, Hua Shan. The following are five chapters of Vicki’s journey within.
My life has always been unremarkable. In fact, it was boring. If I were to describe myself before the trip, it would definitely have to be lifeless. I have lived in Perth all my life, and worked in the same job for eight years. A self confessed couch potato weighing in at 140kg, I didn’t know what the word exercise meant. I was afraid to go out and mix with others. Why would I when I didn’t like myself?
On reflection, I am not sure why I didn’t like myself. I have always been extremely shy. I grew up in a very isolated environment, looking after my pop and grandma. They were my world. I guess I never developed on the social level like most people. So I simply shut myself off from everyone, becoming more isolated and insecure the older I got.
I decided to go on the Challenge after seeing it advertised through Guide Dogs. It seemed like a great way to see a part of the world I had always wanted to go, the pictures made it look easy and it seemed like a worthwhile reason to support a very worthy cause. However, not only did I find the fundraising was a lot of hard work, but the hardest part was yet to come.
I’d gone and booked myself on a Challenge, and I couldn’t hide anymore. I had to get out and meet people. I had to be the one doing the inviting. I organised wine tours, dinners and auctions. I had to force myself to go and talk to people, to open myself up, to not be afraid of being seen and to come out of hiding. My challenge had started before I’d even set foot out of the country. It became even more painful when I got to China and realised I no longer had a valid reason to hide away. I had to conquer my insecurities. I had to become someone I had never been in my life.
Physically, the trip was extremely difficult for me. At 140kg, walking such long distances during the day with little training hurt with each step. Every night I would tape my swollen feet and knees and cover the new blisters and sores appearing all over my feet with padding and bandages. This wasn’t a holiday. This was torture.
Aside from the trip being physically difficult, the greatest pain came from me acknowledging what my life had been like prior to the trip and the fact that for its entirety, I had hidden myself away. Most people I knew thought I had a great life and just didn’t have any time for them. Little did they know I kept myself prisoner behind the barriers of my own fear and insecurities.
I still get so nervous that I am sick before I go out. I still drive around and around before I can make myself get out and go in. But there is a difference. I don’t turn around anymore and go home. I go in. I am enjoying myself more. I don’t let myself stop and think too much or I will talk myself out of doing and going places. I don’t want to go back to the way I was. It would be too easy. It would have been easy to stop walking. The pain would have eased. But I would not have felt the sense of achievement, and the sense of self worth that I now feel.
Now, when I reflect on the trip and think about the Wall, the physical pain seems but a distant memory. I find myself remembering the beauty of the wall instead. I guess it has taught me that we have to go through pain in our lives to appreciate the beauty around us.
The pain from the mountain is a little different. There have been many things in my life that I didn’t think I could do. At 39, climbing the mountain is one of the first major things I have accomplished in my life, so the pain should stay with me forever. And I don’t really want it to go. It’s a constant reminder that no matter how bad a situation I am in, there are many others worse off than myself, and to get on with my own life. I guess it has taught me that when we go through pain in our lives and come out the other side with a smile, that we will be much better people for it, as I am now.
The pain was worth it. And I no longer fear it.
One of my greatest weaknesses in life has always been that I feel I have to do anything to get a friend. I think it manifested itself in the way I have always been passionate about helping other people. It was the only way I received any recognition or appreciation in my otherwise unenthusiastic life. Considering the protective barrier I placed around myself, I don’t think I even had a real idea what a true friend was. Since the trip to China, I believe I am starting to realise. I believe that I have had many friends with me all my life, but I just didn’t know how to see or appreciate them.
On the trip, I constantly didn’t want to let anyone down because I saw myself as an embarrassment to others on the trip. I was very self-conscious about always being last and always being in so much pain. My insecurities were discernible every day in the nos, the I cant dos, the anguish and the tears.
However, there were a few special people who supported me on the entire walk. Although continually embarrassed, I was extremely grateful to have their company. Even when I cried and said I couldn’t do it, they believed in me. Even when I begged to stop, they didn’t doubt me. They kept me laughing and singing. They kept pushing me. They made me push myself. I was happy that for the first time in my life, other people thought I could do it, and I am forever grateful they wouldn’t let me stop.
I am now feeling a little more comfortable in asking other people for help. I realise that it isn’t embarrassing. I realise that to have people around me and having friends support me through the hard times is not something I should fear or be ashamed of. No longer do I just try and make friends with people so it gives me a feeling of self worth. No longer do I think I need to put on a face so that people like me. No longer am I afraid of what people think of me. I make friends with people so I can be there for them, knowing that they will be there for me when I need them. I have learnt not to take friends for granted. And I have also learnt that it’s okay to ask for help, be helped and not to be embarrassed.
Even though I may never again see some of the people I shared this journey with, it has highlighted to me that people do come into our lives for a reason. There were people on the trip who will always be a big part of my life, for without them being there during the hard times, I know I would never have made it. Not just in China. But in my future.
Thank you my angels.
Quite often we rush through life and miss out on special things, or even just the simple things. I realised this especially while walking on the Wall one day when the tour leader reminded us that the walk was not a race. That we would never be there again and that we should enjoy and savour every moment. I took the time to sit down and enjoy the view, soaking up the remarkable history in front of me.
Back in Perth, I find I want to enjoy my life more and I want to try new things. For the first time in my life I am inviting myself to places and events. I am reflecting more on what I want to achieve in my life and am setting goals to ensure these happen. All things I had never even tried in the past.
One of the greatest lessons I learnt from the trip is that I can get through the hard way and feel a total sense of achievement once I have completed it. No longer am I doing what is expected of me. Not in my work, nor in my personal life. I now have more control over my emotions.
I’m learning about myself. I’m trying to make decisions and stick with them so I don’t slip back into bad habits. I don’t want to go back to the way I was.
I am talking about the experience to anyone who wants to listen. Even to the ones who don’t. I have taken up a newspaper drop with my sister and walking every day. In two months, I have already lost 10 kg since arriving back home.
Now I am planning my next challenge to Ladakh in northern India in May 2007. One of the goals for next year’s trip is to help someone like myself to make it to the finish.
There is so much to be achieved by having a dream, and then living it.
Before leaving home, I didn’t believe I would complete the challenge. In fact, I never believed I could do many things in my life. No one else believed I could either. My upbringing did not encourage self confidence, and I guess the gene pool just doesn’t take into account our looks.
Looking at the photos of the mountain scared me shitless. I had a terrible fear of heights, unable to even climb a step ladder. Getting me to go up the Wall on day one was a challenge in itself as it was an extreme effort to even leave my room. I woke up every morning feeling physically ill and worried.
I remember a point on the mountain when I begged to stop. I didn’t want to let anyone down. But I was pushed until it was too far to go back. I dug deep as I figured that I hadn’t died yet so it wasn’t going to kill me, and I pushed myself to keep on going.
I’m not afraid of trying anymore, and am more open to giving things a go. I even mowed the lawn on the weekend, something I had never done before. It wasn’t so scary after all. I used to worry so much in the past about doing everything that I didn’t even give things a go because I was scared of failing or of being embarrassed.
But courage can take us to places that we never thought we might reach. I know. I’ve sat atop a mountain.
On the trip to China, I met someone who not only knew I could climb the mountain, but knew I had to climb that mountain. Somehow they knew that I needed to do this more than anything I’ve ever done in my life, for if I didn’t, I would never achieve anything.
They were right. For not only have I found the courage to give things a go, but I have an inner belief that I can do what looks impossible.
I still get scared, but I have learnt to not think things over as much as I did in the past. I make decisions a little easier. I don’t spend too much time anymore thinking about what others are thinking.
I like myself now. Most of my work colleagues think I’ve gotten tougher since China. I say no more often. That’s a start. I am more out there and going out more. I’m starting to put myself first.
I am starting to believe in who I am and what I can achieve in my life.
THE NEW PATH
So what has changed? After China, you can see I look at things very differently.
The biggest thing I gained from the journey is my new perspective on life. Through my own experience and journey I believe that we too often look at all the obstacles in our path to achieving our dreams. We make excuses. We believe it’s too hard. We blame our past. We don’t live enough in the now. We don’t appreciate the small things around us. We don’t ask for help when we should. We aren’t honest with our feelings.
But by having dreams and giving things a go, pushing through the pain when it happens, having the invaluable support of friends, finding our inner courage and believing we can do it, the summit of a mountain is achievable, even for a 140kg couch potato. Instead of looking at the bottom and considering all the obstacles in my way and saying I can’t do it, I remember what it was like to be at the top and looking back at what I had done. I know I can do it. Mowing the lawn was just the start.
I’m a work in progress. It’s why I’ve joined up to climb the Himalayas in 2007. I know that I climbed 5 500 steps in China and walked 80km of the Great Wall of China. I know I can walk plenty more on my journey within. It will be one step at a time.
My life is no longer lifeless. My life is now beginning.
you bloody ripper!
I had no idea on 01 March, I would be writing every day from 03 March. I’ve sustained a wrist injury and am supposed to be resting it. Plus, as it’s my right hand, it’s made it a little awkward typing each day. But hey, I have another hand and I have plenty of time. Me and words have got to hang out a bit.
March deviation number one.
When I heard about #b03, I pulled out a calendar and marked up all the stories I had wanted to write for a while. With only four stories left to write in the challenge, today I reflected on the calendar and the 27 stories that I was going to write that have all been pushed to the bottom of the to do list. Instead, due to a few things happening in my life, I opted for the flow approach: going where my fingers and thoughts took me to the biggest #bloodyripper of each day. No research. No editing. Just thought and words.
I’ve even written poetry for the first time in my life. Definitely not in the plan.
March deviation number two.
I’ve been offered a few work opportunities lately. But as writing and I have got reacquainted and I’ve left myself naked, bare to the elements of trust and purpose, I’ve just sent emails saying thank you, but no. Yesterday I found out about a workshop learning skills to write about hardship and sorrow and I’ve got the time to say yes. Words and I have a little more bonding to do. We need to hang out some more.
March deviation number three.
If I’d stuck to my plan of posts this month, I may have missed out on some highlights of my day and not merely been open to creative impulses and the moment that gave me the biggest smile. I could have missed it. Because I was too focused on the plan.
I guess you might hear about staring into a fire, crawling out your window to soak up the sun on a window ledge, sensory walks, $2 lolly bags (yes, they do exist), watching the moon rise, space, butts on beaches and what really did happen on my search for Ketut when I went to Bali last year. Or maybe you won’t. Flow has a way of controlling my writing right now, so I’m just sticking with the leaf in a river approach and going where I need to.
March deviation number four.
As I glance again at the calendar, I notice a long red line.
There’s a great quote in “Corner of the sky” from Pippin the musical:
I want my life to be something more than long.
I’ve deviated so much from my childhood dream of studying journalism, to finding myself in politics, travel, social-enterprise, not-for-profit and wellness sectors, that it’s quite surreal to find myself back writing.
There’s no doubt I want my life to be something more than long. I’ve crammed so much into it that I’ve definitely touched, breathed and experienced its breadth and depth.
I’d probably even be able to bring back the award winning public speaker and debater and argue for the affirmative that life should not be a noun. Verb : hands down.
I think March will go down in history to finally understand the true meaning behind Tolkien’s quote on my keyring.
Not all those who wander are lost.
Don’t get me wrong – plans have purpose. And a wandering soul will never find their way home if they never know where home is.
Deviation can bring you back to the path you should be on. You can learn about yourself on those deviations and experience a whole lot of life you never knew was out there.
For me, it’s been a 360 turnaround.
March deviation number five.
Never be afraid to deviate.
Length, breadth and depth awaits.
you bloody ripper!
All of us are created equal, and it is only through birth or circumstance that some of us are not provided with equal opportunity.
When I travel, I don’t see the noodle shop owner as a noodle shop owner. I don’t see my waiter as a waiter. And I certainly didn’t see ‘Mr T’ as simply a tuk tuk driver during my two week stay in Phnom Penh. Rather than just expecting a service from them, I see all of these people as having thoughts, passions, life experiences and desires that I want to hear and allow them the opportunity to share.
On this particular day, after spending hours on the back of a moto, I invited Mr T out for dinner. Cut to scene – corner noodle shop, large vats of steaming stock filled with unknown offcuts, noodles and whatever may have flown in during the day for a tasty kamikaze swoop. I’d shared with Mr T over ten days about why I was back in Phnom Penh, why I wasn’t visiting “important” people and why I wanted to go out of the city on the back of a bike and get covered in dust, sleep on wooden slats in rural villages, delve into the slums and hang out on the streets at night.
We then talked about Cambodia, and all the changes that were taking place. And I’m not talking positive change. Thousands of people being displaced. Orphanages trading in prostitution. Tent cities. Crime. Food shortages. How could all this be happening in a country that receives some of the highest levels of aid than any other country on earth?
There was a sense of complacency about Mr T when he shared his thoughts about his personal future, and that of his country. There was expectancy that the powers that be should be making a difference. There was a degree of anger. Certainly frustration. Definitely uncertainty. After a couple of hours conversing over dinner and some chilled Angkor Beer, he put out his hand, palm up, and asked: “When will someone give me the power to do something?”. I grabbed his hand, turned it palm down, and simply said “You already have the power”.
Now I wasn’t talking power to change Cambodia, let alone the world. Rather, to change his own world, and perhaps take him from a level of complacency to a state of action for himself. It was all about the doing, and not the asking.
It was quite a humbling conversation: two people from two different worlds, two different experiences, two different opportunities, and yet one common thread – what can we do to make a difference in our own life? Whether or not we then correlate that to making a bigger difference is entirely up to the individual.
It is about recognising that before we can give to others, we must first give to ourselves.
It merely takes a twist of the wrist.
you bloody ripper!
Your fingers run underneath me
Grains of your weariness
Long distances they have travelled.
When there is no protection
The wind and the tides
Become our matchmaker.
You come back
Only to leave me again.
I close my eyes
Observing the thoughts of my mind
Each time we touch
You take parts of me with you.
Seeps through the pores
Of my soul.
you bloody ripper!
Today, I had to ensure I got my application in for #blogforgood so I had plenty of time to tell you all about it.
As I had some prearranged things to do that have kept me busy since I found out about the competition, tonight I had to get it finished. Six hours scouring photographs, playing with animations, finding the right stories. And I’m finally done – upload complete – here’s the final slideshow (albeit less my animations that aren’t supported…. technology).
you bloody ripper!
I’ve just arrived home after watching three hours of home videos I’d never seen. While emptying out a box earlier in the day, I came across the footage from my first travelling stint through south-east Asia and Africa. They were from 1998 and I’d never seen them.
Memories of my African safari have begun to resurface after my decision to enter the #blogforgood competition. The winner has the opportunity to head to Tanzania and blog for CBMAustralia about the work they do improving the lives of people living with a disability.
As I have travelled extensively, the opportunity to travel back to Tanzania is not about ticking off another country on the list – I’ve had the pants scared off me by a tiger enroute to the loos one night in the Serengeti.
It’s about the ability to reconnect to a place that I longed to travel from a very early age, have always felt a calling to, and to see first hand the work of an organisation that is making change.
Travelling in extremely remote areas 14 years ago was not easy. Tonight reminded me of the depth of poverty, disease and malnutrition I came across. As parts of the film screened, I closed my eyes, and took myself back. I could describe the scenes before they happened. I could smell the fire, feel the water cascade over my body as I bathed under a waterfall, taste the beer, recall the hands of the young child as we walked to their home, feel the fear when the snake charmer danced, be overwhelmed by the weariness of three days stuck by the side of the road due to an accident and deny all knowledge of that Queensland accent. Did I really ever sound like that? Proof.
You see, ever since I watched Sigourney Weaver surrounded by gorillas in the mist, it was my ambition to be in that position.
With any goal, it means you have to work. No one was going to hand me an airline ticket to travel across the globe, trek up a mountain and spend all day clambering through dense jungle with the hope of spotting an elusive gorilla.
So I worked, hard. I saved, hard. I travelled for almost two years, hard. I worked a bit more, hard. And then I climbed that mountain, hard.
Tonight I was reminded that realisation of goals needs a very strong mix of desire, commitment and effort.
I recalled every ounce of pleasure that dripped through my veins as I sat within 3m of a mountain gorilla and observed the family interaction for more than an hour. In my wildest dreams, I never thought I would be so close, almost at one point feeling like I could reach out and join the throng of flea picking, cuddles and childish play.
The opportunity I had no longer exists. And yet, tonight in Angie’s room, it was as real as it was that day 16 years ago. The smile on my face expressed it all. Because it came deep from within.
Tonight, I was back in that mist.
I close my eyes. On opening, I can assure you that despite time, the joy of achieving a long-term goal never leaves you. The richness of the experience will be there forever.
Tonight, I am hungry to feel that way again. I’ve been reminded of what I need to do.
Keep writing. Hard. There’s magic to be found in getting up close and personal to your dreams.
you bloody ripper!