Sunday, 23 December 2012

Kindness to Self

The approach to Christmas is SUCH a busy time of year. Many people seem to feel there is so little time and so many things to do before "the holidays." Sometimes I wonder that people don't overextend themselves beyond what the holiday break can heal!
People trying to tidy up all the loose ends at work, around the home, and then doing the extra things like buying gifts for friends and family, sending Christmas cards,  preparing travel plans, or shopping and cooking to fill the fridge and pantry with food and drink for visitors.
In our clinic we notice that stress and anxiety levels are at a pretty high level for many clients. One common thread I notice is the high expectations many have of themselves- often people expect so much more of themselves than they ever would of others. People often feel they need to do things out of guilt or obligation. I was reminded of this the other day when a lady told me she had 78 cards to send this year and she was worried she might not get them all sent. As she talked about that, she said many of the cards were to be sent to people she had no contact with- other than the yearly card exchange- no message beyond Christmas wishes. She sounded like it was such a joyless obligation.
It brought to mind when I stopped sending cards of that nature, years ago. I reckon the people I sent those 'obligatory" cards to probably heaved a sigh of relief and crossed me off their card list.  It's a belief of mine that acting out of guilt or obligation does no one any service. Since then I've realised this need not just be about the cards, but life in general. It makes life so much more enjoyable. So I send an email, text message, or make a phone call to the people I love and want to keep in touch with, who are far away.
When I'm really busy with lots of demands on my time, I ask myself if I'm doing something because I truly want to, or out of guilt or obligation? And I mostly avoid the "guilt driven" stuff. Guilt is such a futile, damaging emotion because it can lead one to feel obliged to do things that can lead to other negative emotions like resentment and anger, towards others. Yet, I have found that course is so avoidable if I just notice what is directing me. Sometimes time is tight and I feel pressured to get lots of things done, and it's at those times that I take a moment to check on why I am doing each of them; and if I find I am acting only out of obligation/guilt I let those jobs go. If there is time after doing the things that give me joy, a sense of completion, or out of love for another, then I might get back to it- but mostly not.
I did find it was difficult at first- but then............. NOTHING HAPPENED. No one judged me- I think that was my biggest worry, and I think I was my biggest judge anyway! Have you ever noticed you are much tougher and more judgemental on yourself than you are on others. I have observed I am so much more "understanding" of the limitations of others, than my own limitations.
I know it's not just about the demands we place upon ourselves,sometimes I feel obligated when others might ask more of me than I am "sanely" able to acheive. When I'm asked, by another, to do something that that I don't have time for, and that I would only do out of guilt/obligation, I've become better at using phrases like: " I'm sorry I haven't got the time/energy to do that properly for you right now," or "I won't be able to do a good job just at the moment," or even " Let me finish this job I'm doing first, so I can do that well for you." No one gets impatient when I am being that polite( and respectful of wanting to do a good job for them). Even my children accepted these responses when they were young, and at their most demanding. And I find using those phrases it's calming for me in the midst of busy times. Often the "asker" will do the job themselves or find another person to ask, or decide it's not that important. But they won't be dissapointed in YOUR work or your speed to do the task.
Be kinder to yourself.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

In the Wild...amazing nature.

I've just spent an amazing two weeks in far north Queensland.....Cape Tribulation, Atherton Tablelands, The Daintree. It's such a beautiful part of the world....rainforests, beaches, clear blue oceans, waterfalls, and amazing plants and wildlife unique to that area. In their natural habitats we were fortunate enough to see Cassowaries, Platypus, Ulysses and Cairns Birdwing butterflies, Paradise Kingfishers, and saltwater crocodiles.  Stangler figs and Kauri Pines that were hundreds of years old amazes us.
It made me so aware that no matter how "powerful" or "superior" we humans may think we are.....we can't even come close to what occurs over and over in nature. I found it very humbling.
Just for example...the iridescent blue on the wings of the Ulysses butterfly, the red and blue colouration on the head of the Cassowarry, and the glossy shiny blackness of his feathers and likewise the feathers of the satin flycatcher bird. Or the saphire blue on the back of the Paradise kingfisher, in contrast to the brilliant orange breast and claws. These colours flawlessly repeated in every generation.
We were thrilled to see some platypus, at dusk, in a little creek in Youngaburra. There were babies and adults. We were able to watch the water droplets roll off their completely wateproof fur as they dived for small crustaceans and water insects then returned to the surface for air before diving again. So perfectly adapted to their homes in the creek bank.
Then there were the crocodiles we saw sunning on the banks of the Daitree River and they just command respect (and fear!) but are so perfectly suited to their place in the environment that they are unchanged since prehistory times. Another species that you have to respect for it's ability to adapt are the mangroves in the wetlands areas...the leaves  and roots have the ability to tolerate sudden changes in salt, and oxygen in the water they grow in. We can't do that! And nothing is wasted in the wetlands, or the rainforest. Perfect recycling of one lifeform dies it becomes nutrient source for some other lifeform. The extensive above ground root systems of the Strangler Figs "house" a community of creatures that drink the water that pools and feed on the compost that builds in their enormous convoluted roots. And then feeds the tree....Genius! And then the tree, and all the others in the extensive rainforests, remove the carbon dioxide in the air and create the oxygen we breathe. No waste. My daughter refers to the Strangler Figs as the "Kings of the forest"- a well earned, though perhaps not grand enough, title I think.
And the power of the waterfalls generating electricity through hydro-electic schemes in many areas on the Tablelands. Likewise a windfarm at "Windy Hill" near Ravenshoe that converts kinetic into electrical energy and generates enough electricity for 3500 homes in the area. No mess, no mining, and both completely renewable and constantly available forms of energy! Such power.
Don't take me wrong, humans can do amazing things, but I think sometimes we forget what great examples nature provides for us- and I was really grateful to have had the chance to spend the time noticing it.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Sorry tale

Yesterday I was very mean to someone I care a lot about.
 Not making excuses, but it was one of those times when I had chosen to attempt to do too many things at once, and nothing was being done properly. When I asked him for help in explaining something technical, he explained it in a way that wasn't immediately helpful to me.....and I had, what can only be described as, a tantrum! I stomped my feet and snarled that he was no help at all. He had the common sense to angrily tell me not to get angry at him.  So then I "huffed" out of the room. Yes, very mature, and evolved (not).
 For a while I managed to convince myself that I had every right to continue to feel angry.
I noticed the next thing I felt was doubt....then remorse.......then embarrassment at my behaviour. At that point I began to wonder how long he would stay angry at me. I remembered an elderly client of mine telling me that she hadn't spoken to her two brothers for many, many years and that she was not able to recall what they had originally argued about! She just knew there was this huge wall of anger that none of them could ever seem to climb over. Now that she was in his later years she was regretful but felt too much time had elapsed for effort to be made..........Amazing the thoughts that come into your head at just the right times. Higher self will always provide :)
So I ventured back into his presence and "threw myself at his mercy" by simply apologising.
"I am so sorry I was so mean," I said, very quietly.
He replied," Why were you angry with me, I was trying to help you?"
I resisted the sudden urge I felt to justify my anger, and totally swallowed my pride by saying, "I have no idea, anger just overwhelmed me and it was wrong to take it out on you. Please forgive me." I smiled...then he smiled.....because it is hard to stay angry at someone who apologises and totally agrees with you that they are at fault!
Every "angry circumstance" isn't that simple of course, but I do think it's worth having a good think about how much fault you may need to assume........then offering apology for it. It's not easy, pride often will get in the way of it being easy, but it may prevent a lifetime of regret. And by setting the example, being the first to offer an apology, you're literally halfway there.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Changing Brains

In the last few years I've increasingly enjoyed doing and learning and being exposed to new life experiences. I've undertaken new studies, become more community involved, increased my fitness level, taken up hiking and the challenges that carrying everything you need to hike and camp overnights in wilderness areas requires, facilitated new workshops, written a book, begun to "blog"( and to learn all the computer formatting that goes with that), learnt to Latin dance, taken regular holidays to new destinations........
Some things are complete and some I continue regularly.
Lots of times I was a bit out of my comfort zone-  and certainly my knowledge and ability zone ! But I found that the more I did things that  may have initially caused me to think, "I'd love to do that but I couldn't manage that," the more joy I got from finding a way I could do them. And finding that seemed to shift me into thinking, "I'd love to do that, so how can I work that into my life?"  When you have a family and a business to take care of it's pretty common to think things beyond that are unachievable, but I'm so fortunate to have learnt otherwise. Sometimes it took saving money, sometimes rearranging my time, sometimes I had to wait for a better time to begin. I know that it has been great for me and as a result I think it made me a better parent (to set that example of balance and achievement and all is possible to my children), a better partner, friend, therapist, manager, and I'm happier with myself. So that further reinforces, for me, how right it is to learn new skills.
And this week I began to read an amazing book "The Brain that Changes Itself", by Norman Doidge MD, and began to realise another reason why having new challenges and experiences is so good for me.
In his book he outlines (in lay terms) the fairly new science of Neuroplasticity- the ability our brains have to grow and repair and develop new brain (neural) pathways as we age. "Neuro" means brain, and "Plasticity" refers to the change (in the brain) as these new pathways develop. He speaks with Neurologists, behaviourists, scientists and outlines their findings and current amazing applications of this work. The premise behind Neuroplasticity( that resonated with me) is that as we age areas of the brain do cease to function well or at all (he makes references to Alzheimer's disease, dementia, stroke and other brain injury, Parkinson's disease.....) but that with the stimulation of learning new skills, areas adjacent to the poorly functioning areas in the brain do develop, grow and take over!  And the problem is no more! Accurately he, and the experts he interviews, points out that the learning of new experiences is commonplace in the pre-middle-age years- as babies and children we are learning constantly about everything in our world, as teenagers our worlds change and more experiences are learnt, in early adult life we might attend University, become employed and again learn many new ideas, then we "marry", have children, learn how to live independently and learn how to live with and care for others. But often at middle age we are more comfortable in career, home, relationships and probably a little tired, and we come to a period of rest with regard to learning new things. So our brain ceases to grow and develop new neural pathways. And this happens to even very clever people like Drs and Lawyers etc because it is the learning of new concepts that create plasticity, not working with the same ones.
Based on this new work there are centres in the US ( and online- www.positscience) where teams of Drs and scientists offer learning programs specific to help everything from forgetfulness, to recovery from stroke, to Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease.
Of course it also has amazing applications for children with learning disabilities and autism, and the centre is having wonderful outcomes with these problems. The book outlines lots of case studies, success stories and the underlying message is to challenge your brain on a regular basis. That means daily for an hour or so I believe.
So I now have even more reason to continue to explore new ideas and learn new skills. "Use it or lose it" applies to the mind as well as the body.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

My Life Story.......

During the week I was asked to talk to a group of professionals, and tell them "My Life Story" and a little about "who I am." I have recently joined a local Rotary group and this is a regular task asked of new members.
I have experience speaking to groups when I facillitate work/life balance workshops, over a day or even a weekend, so was surprised  how nervous I was with this task when the day arrived! I was only required to talk for 15 minutes! I think my nervousness was because talking at length about yourself  is something so uncommon for most people to do these days. Others I spoke to said they had felt just as nervous as I did and, like me, had made notes to refer to/ stay on track/speak for the required time.
Of course I "survived" and was made to feel very comfortable as I rattled on....
Afterwards I was talking with others in the group and the point was made that each of us felt quite grateful to have had this opportunity, at some time or other, because it gave a chance to formally think about "who you are." For that reason I can really recommend taking the time to make a few notes, and jot down your life story, so far. I know that will sound like such a waste of time to many people but it is so worthwhile.
We spend so much time looking outward and away from ourselves......often more able to speak about existence outside ourselves, than our own.
And when you're able to make time to think about "who you are", include topics like:
where you were born, and grew up.....
and your "early days"....... but also things like,
 what you currently feel passionate about....
consider what you feel your strengths of character are......
 and simple things like your favourite food..... colour... music... movie.....
what hobbies you enjoy...
 experiences that have left a big impression on you.....
your hopes/dreams for the future......
 what you love about your life right now.......
something that may surprise others about you.......
Then the next time someone says: "So tell me about yourself ?"  you will have a really interesting answer.
And you will have a sense of what events/circumstances led you to where you are in your life right now.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Taking Pride and Peace

I was talking today to a lovely fellow. He is a hard working man, someone who probably has weeks of "sick leave" that he will never use and happily works a little extra overtime because he is the manager and takes pride in doing a great job for his employer. But he was despairing that in Australia we have such a lot of unemployed people on benefits....he expressed that it seems "unfair" that some of us work so hard, pay lots of tax, experience stress daily in the workplace, while others collect unemployment benefits and have the government pay for them to attend courses in an effort to make them more employable. He said he wondered if he had done his own children a disservice in setting the example to work hard in their workplaces- that it might just lead them to feel stressed,as he often feels!
It got me thinking that I just couldn't agree with him on that because I think the best gift we can give our children is self respect. And taking pride in their acts(work, study, sport, any endeavour really) and encouraging them to do the best job they can, in whatever they do, is the best way a person can achieve that. So I think he's done a great job if he's achieved that! That way they will have pride in themselves, a strong sense of self respect, and happiness will follow. Sure, sometimes in the "striving" there might be some stress or struggle or even a lack of success; but just having the opportunity to have a goal gives one a purpose and I think people need that- more than ever these days. There should never be stress associated with doing your best or giving your best effort. Yet there often why?
In my own business, and with the clients I chat to, I've noticed some things regarding stress in workplaces and working groups. To start with it I think it helps to focus on what you are doing- and not what others aren't doing. Doing the latter is futile( and frustrating) because you've no actual control over the actions or inaction of another.
 I think stress and anxiety are not so much related to what a person does but more to how they do it. Lead by example by actually focusing on your task, considering it as you work, deliberately taking your time, really noticing the steps along the way, and not rushing yourself, doing the task to the best  of your ability, then looking back on the completed task for a few moments. This mindfulness process can be quite absorbing, even a little meditative. It's definitely productive because by noticing the process, rather than rushing yourself, you will make less mistakes . The few extra seconds it takes to work this way are so worthwhile because this method slows the hectic mind and you may be surprised to find it can leave you feeling quite clear headed and relaxed at the end! Also with a sense of fulfilment and pride at noticing what you've achieved. And more often than not a better result than working at a hectic pace and arriving at the outcome in a stressed, and sometimes unfriendly, state.
 This applies whether you work as a doctor, personal assistant, actor, lawyer, lifeguard, teacher, shop assistant, gardener, labourer, massage therapist, stay-at-home-parent etc. And being around people who work this way is a lot more enjoyable. They are calming, and that draws people to them. So it's very much a useful business tool as well!
Try working this way in whatever you do and success (and happiness) will follow.....

Sunday, 19 August 2012


You can have  anything you want in your life, if you just believe you can. Along with many others, the world over, I believe we are constantly creating our own reality. "Good" things that come our way do so  because we believed they would(expected them to) and we acted in a way, and with a belief of certainty, that they would. This is an aspect of positive thinking and I think one day there will be a breakthrough in quantum physics that will prove this theory.  As well as flesh, we are beings of energy- our bodies are powered by chemical and electrical reactions( any biological chemistry book says so.) I believe the energy created also transmits outward to the world, and the energy fields of others, around us. I think our thoughts are pure energy that drives the direction of our lives. So by constantly putting positive, formed, directed thoughts (energy) outwards from yourself into the surrounding environment you can create the changes these thoughts contain. I can't prove it with empirical data( there are people working on that), but I do use this awareness of creating what I want- it is termed manifesting- all the time.
When manifesting, the idea is to say( with as much conviction as you can) "I have" and not "I want/wish/ will have." This is because otherwise all you create with your thoughts is a wanting and not a having. I have also realised you can't maintain the momentum of passion required to manifest if you use the word "wish."  I heard the best explanation for this the other day when I was listening to a youtube presentation with Abraham Hicks ( easy to find on any search engine) and the notion of manifesting was being discussed. The speaker said, " the field into which one manifests is literal." This explains it so well, because if the thought being put out into the world (the field) by someone hoping to manifest is "I want/wish/ will have...." then its literally just a wish or a want that goes out there. But using the words "I have" puts a "having" out there! And that creates energetic shifts towards a physical reality where the having is real, and the new reality manifests. 
I began to explore the idea and process of manifesting about 10 years ago. I think the first I read of it was in one of Louise Hay's books. I began by writing down a few things I wanted to happen in my life. Then I made a voice recording that said I have these circumstances  in my life, and listened to it every day.  I would look in the mirror and tell my image that I have these things in my life. For me it was a new car, a 100%  increase in business growth, and a home renovation. Of course I didn't have these things at that point, and at first I  didn't believe I did( or probably ever would!) . But as I continued to say with certainty that I had these things, I did begin to believe and then expect them to happen. I think that I became more aware of possibilities for bringing these things into my life, the more I said the " I haves.."
Everything from that first recording has manifested for me and I continue to use the method- to manifest good health, happiness, balance in my life as well as certain material things. Recently I've begun working on global wellness. "The world around me is healthy and beautiful."
Some people might consider it "greedy" to work towards manifesting material gain. But I believe if there is no harm caused to any other individual and you feel you want something enough to maintain the passion when you say "I have......" processes will come into play, and it will manifest. Personally I have no "passion" to win the Lotto :) or have lots of money just for the sake of having lots of money, so that's never on my recording and I couldn't maintain the passion to manifest such- but to each his own.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Mind the Stress

Because I work in an industry that assists  people to relax their bodies to reduce pain, increase range of motion, and generally function more happily, I talk with my clients about the physical and mental stresses in their lives and how it contributes to unwellness in their bodies.
People don't know how bad long term stress can be for their health. I mean most of us know it isn't very nice to be feeling "stressed"- either physically with tension in our bodies that create pain and immobility, or mentally with a brain that feels overwhelmed, exhausted, not able to think clearly. But I have noticed that people don't realise how long term, untreated stress can make you very sick.
The stress response, often termed "Flight, Fight or Freeze" is that rush of adrenaline the human body produces and releases when faced with a sudden stressful situation. Adrenaline pumped into the bloodstream causes stored starch to be converted to glucose, which in turn is sent to the bloodstream. This causes a whole range of body responses that most effectively equip the body to best deal with the circumstance at hand.... blood sugar rises, metabolic rate increases, breathing rate increases, the heart beats faster to pump blood and oxygen to the brain (for most effective thinking) and all other body parts (for most effective action), the pupils in the eyes dilate ( all the better to see the "danger" with), and the production of blood clotting factor increases( in preparedness for any injury that may result).  An example of this might be when we are driving along and a car "appears from nowhere!" or some other sudden life threatening situation. In a less frightening way this stress response is also at play while we watch our favourite sports team play a final("nail-biting " or "edge of the seat" feelings), or enter an exam, or job interview, or go out on a first date. In all these instances it is the "rush" of adrenaline, and the effects it has on the body, that best prepare us to most effectively address the situation towards the most positive outcome. Then, afterwards, the brain observes there is no more need for it, and the stress response ends.....and heart rate, breathing rate, metabolic rate, pupils, blood sugar, blood clotting factor all return to normal levels. The stress response is meant to be short, sharp, and efficient, and then OVER.....until the next "situation" occurs.
But, these times in which we live often create ongoing stress in lives. The body can even cope okay with a little ongoing stress. This is the stress that might include relationship problems, financial worry, unemployment, work deadlines- it is going to be in ones life for a little while. In cases like this the brain directs the adrenal glands to produce cortisol.  Cortisol causes the body to convert it's protein stores into glucose. Cortisol causes pretty much the same response throughout the body as adrenaline( see above), but because there is a lot more stored protein in the body cortisol can maintain that range of "performance enhancing symptoms" for a longer time than the instantaneous "rush" created by adrenaline. This system works well and can sustain physical or mental performance for days or even weeks. Interestingly, cortisol also has a natural anti-inflammatory effect and allows a person to focus on a stressful circumstance without being distracted by aches or pains of a minor nature.
But when people allow stress to dominate their lives for months at a time, without regular breaks to allow cortisol levels to return to base levels, health can become compromised.
 Here is why:
If the increased metabolism continues there is the potential for health problems such as type 2 diabetes( from the maintained high blood sugar and the demand this places on the pancreas), panic attacks( from the increased-often shallow- breathing rate), Skin rashes( from the increased circulation to the skin), insomnia( the increased circulation to the brain), hypertension and compromised heart health( from the maintained increased heart rate), weight loss( not fat loss, but protein loss!), increased chance of thrombosis( from the production of blood clotting factor, and adrenal gland overload and eventual collapse.
As well as these concerns, the human body is not meant to be exposed to cortisol for extended periods of time because the anti-inflammatory property of cortisol suppresses the human immune system. Our immune systems produce antibodies and cells to fight disease and maintain fluid balance within the body. Ongoing stress over months will mean a person will more easily get sick, possibly be sicker than if there was not ongoing stress, and remain sick for longer, due to a compromised immune system.
The body is constantly replacing cells that die with new ones and throughout that process sometimes cells are produced "wrongly," some having the potential to become cancer cells.  These cells are produced due to exposure to viruses, bacteria, chemicals,  radiation, or toxins in our environment.  It is the immune system that, on a daily basis, notices, removes, and destroys these cells before they can multiply into a problem. So, another reason its important to limit exposing the body to long term stress.
Here's an idea:
I certainly can't tell people to remove stress from their lives- short term "stressful" events make our lives interesting and provide challenges that allow our spirits to grow.
But if optimal health and wellness is to be achieved it is so important to allow cortisol levels, and all it's effects, to regularly return to minimal. Then the body, it's immune system, and the whole person can recover before undertaking the next challenge.
It's as simple as converting long term stress into short term "parcels." Beacuse our bodies can cope fine with short term stress. Once people know about the health risks of long term ongoing stress, it can be easier to put this kind of stress management in place.....
As stress levels get to a point of "making you feel mentally or physically sick"(preferably before) step away for a time ..... Plan a day trip away, have a massage, become immersed in a good book, meditate, exercise in an enjoyable way, spend time at a hobby you love, listen to some music, go dancing........Whatever you choose to do tell yourself that for this while you won't think about your regular stuff, it will always be there later, and you will be more effective when you're in optimal health. Then return to regular life, notice your stress levels increasing, and repeat the process....... With maybe an hour a day, or a couple of hours a week, or a few hours each month( whichever is best for your lifestyle) spent this way, you will be so much healthier.

Friday, 20 July 2012

"People" Skills

Recently we spent a few days in Melbourne doing some training. This is a requirement in our profession to stay compliant with health fund regulations, if you are a provider. We spent 4 days with a great Instructor who was very inspiring. The experience at the workshop and another at a local Melbourne restaurant gave me cause to think about good business practices- which I think are just good people practices.
It's funny, because a week or so ago I was speaking with a friend and made the comment that I thought to be successful in the customer service industry these days, a business owner needs to remember that business is primarily about people and not money. I trully believe it is most important to be aware and attentive to the needs of customers, above all other business aspects. When I am a customer I think if I have a really great service experience, a lot of other aspects like price, surroundings, quality, quantity, etc can be just at an adequate level. Let me explain....
  The workshop we attended cost us $1200 to attend, $600 for accomodation, and $400 for airfares. Plus, when you are self employed, the cost of 4 days without any income. But let me say the quality of the service, provided by the Instructor, lets me put those costs in perspective. He was totally attentive throughout, asked at the outset what each learner wanted to take away from the instruction, discussed how to use the learning in your business, constantly checked in with the class that everyone "got it", explained in another way when a learner didn't "get it",  regularly allowed time for questions, and allowed regular short breaks to avoid the mental fatigue that can accompany 4 days of Anatomy and Physiology learning. My point is....quality of service justified the reasonable cost for me.
This also was really made clear to us when we ventured out for dinner at a restaurant I had heard about( on on a television cooking show, actually). I had a look on the internet and found you could not book a table unless it was for a group of 8 or more, and that there was likely to be a "bit of a wait for a table"...that just intrigued us : ) ! At least we were forewarned....
 So we dressed up, took a tram into the city, and found the restaurant. Nothing too showy....just a door with the name of the place above it. When we entered we discovered we were at the end of a queue, at the bottom of a stairway and the restaurant was above. There were probably 30 people in front of us, and we were at the bottom of the stairs- just squeezed inside. It looked daunting, and we thought this was a crazy way to run a business! But a young man ( of a waiter nature) came down the stairs very quickly to tell us there was a 1 hour wait for a table, but that we would have a drink and something to "munch" on within 25 minutes. He asked if we were happy to wait under those circumstances. We were appreciative of the quick attention and thought we would wait for a while- but I have to say I was having doubts about the evening. We chatted with eachother, with the others on the stairs, and 20 minutes passed quite quickly. The queue moved upward and, as promised, we were ushered upstairs to the bar within 20 minutes( 5 minutes faster than expected). It was interesting how being 5 minutes-ahead-of-time impressed us! The bar options were extensive and the bar staff were amazing in their ability to patiently explain several pages of tequila derived  alternatives, boutique beers, and white and red wines to help us decide on something that was similar to our usual preferred drinks. And they were absolutely "on the mark." We enjoyed sipping our drinks, looking around the crowded restaurant, nibbling some locally made corn chips, and wondered how they would keep track of us amongst all the other patrons at the bar. But within another 20 minutes we were taken to our table. The tables were really close together and normally I wouldn't like that, but the soft lighting and the busy atmosphere of the place, along with the great latino music muffled out the crowds! After asking if we had eaten there before, the waitress explained every item on the menu and, again, was attentive to us with our shared plates being taken from the table promptly but unobtrusively. We were a little unsure how much to order because of the sharing idea with the type of food, but her guidance was perfect. We learned a lot about the nature of the food ( regional mexican) as well as enjoying the flavours. There was no hurry at all to leave- but you know at 10:30 pm, as we left, there were another 30 people waiting on the stairs to be seated!
So I will say the food was great( but not AMAZING by technical standards), the cost was average( $120 for the 2 of us ), the wait to sit originally seemed crazy, but on a scale of 1-10 with regard to customer service I would rate it a 15- every step of the way! And that's what made it so memorable, and why I will tell others, and why I would go again if I lived in Melbourne( and certainly will if I return). So in regard to the "eating out" experience, this time it was again amazing customer service that far outweighed, what would normally have been, a ridiculously long time to wait for a table.
For me these 2 really different experiences demonstrated that customer service is the most important aspect of any business. I will continue to treat it as such, and I hope others in business will also. It seems to be what customers mention they crave the most.  Maybe, in these tougher economic times, the customer will benefit beacuse of this.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Living Simply

I just purchased a new mortar and pestle..... and it makes me so happy!
I should have known it really would because its been in my mind to buy one for a long time....but for one reason and another I just haven't made the time to buy one before now. And that's mad because ordinarily I would have acted on a thought that continued to enter my head- because I think that's my soul guiding me through life! And listening to my soul, and allowing it to guide me, always leads me to happiness : )
I am by no means an expert cook, but I do enjoy making food from original ingredients- partly for health and partly for that simple purity of flavour. So with this new purchase I can create my own pastes, tapenades, spice blends- combinations of original flavour. And I think the aspect that gives me the greatest joy is the physical process of picking fresh herbs from the garden( or dried from the pantry ) and then the slow motions in the mortar and pestle- working them into a blend.....perhaps slowly adding some moisture or oil.....then using them to enhance the flavour of simple food. I find it really grounding.... no pun intended.

 Thinking about why I am so happy with the mortar and pestle has given me a little more insight into myself.....

I think what I call "Simple Living" really works well for me. By this term I mean limiting the amount of appliances, gadgets, machines in my world. Getting back to basics.
Towards this end we grow lots of our own vegetables and fruit- not self sufficient by any means, but a great enhancement to our diets. It also regularly puts me in touch with the earth and her cycles. It gives me the chance to watch plants go to seed, spreading those seeds and watching the same plants regrow the next season. Watching our fruit trees and vines have good (and sometimes dissapointing) yeilds. Returning plant waste back to the earth via the compost heap. For me it's probably the "being in touch with the earth" aspect I like the most.
Cooking simply, but from basic ingredients rather than prepared sauces or flavourings, also appeals to me for that reason.  And it gives me that sense of appreciation for the Farmer's efforts. In that vain I swap some therapy work for real free range eggs. It raises my sense of appreciation for the produce by directly working for it.
I try and limit my "footprint" on the earth by running only one car in the household. After 25 years of family life that way, we did inherit a second car- but old habits remain because there is still only one car in use at a time (and the trusty pushbike!) By habit and default we seem to have become environmentally aware. : )
We don't own a dishwasher or microwave oven- they are convenient for many folks I know, but it just feels like too much technology in my simple kitchen! ( I actually did a report about microwave ovens- their use, leakage and food impact- when I was at University in the early 1980's and I have never felt brave enough to own one since!) Nor do we have home airconditioning. Blankets are great to keep warm in the winter and we're lucky enough to live in a "Queenslander" with lots of windows to catch Summer breezes. Again I like to be in touch with the planet and I think less technology and more aknowledgement of the weather helps me do that.
I certinly buy new clothes, but I also do a lot of "Opshopping"-  taking shop bought but no longer used clothes in for them to recycle. For me it feels like less waste.

I know technology and convenience in food and living are appealing, and I certainly enjoy the entertainment and comfort they provide on many levels. But for me sometimes they speed life up so much that it zooms by and I feel like I'm missing it. Taking a breath and living simply helps me keep my feet on the ground, and notice the life I am living.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The Power of Positive

We often say we need to have a positive attitude to create positive outcomes. But how do we do that? How do we generate a positive attitude and what do we do when there are challenges to our positive attitude?
Several years ago, at a Women’s’ Retreat, we spent a session brainstorming about “How to live Your Life with a Positive Attitude.” Participants were a diverse group of (18) women aged from 20-60 years in age. I thought you might find it interesting to see what we came up with by the end of that session…..
  • The features of a positive attitude:
-          constructive thing
-          creative thinking
-          expecting success
-          optimism
-          looking at the bright side of life
-          motivation to achieve goals
-          being inspired
-          happiness
-          looking at failure and problems as blessings in disguise
-          believing in yourself and in your abilities
-          self-esteem and confidence
-          noticing opportunities

There are 2 aspects to a Positive attitude:
1.       Presenting a Positive Appearance:  we thought some or all the following….
§  Neat, tidy, “I’ve made an effort” appearance
§  Make Eye contact
§  Smiling
§  Open body language
§  Positive responses to communications

2.       Having a Positive Mental Process by:
For Yourself
- Always remind yourself you are not less or more than another. But beautifully unique!
- Each day remind yourself of those things you are really good at- your strengths- we called it your “Superpower”.
 - In any situation when you find yourself feeling inferior, choose one of your strengths and think to yourself  “ I  am .....” to raise confidence.
With Others
- Avoid making negative assumptions about how others will be/act/respond.
-  You can do this by realising and telling yourself this:
 Assumptions are based on how you would be in that situation- based on your life experiences. How can you know how another person will think, be, act, because you don’t know their life experiences.
-  Try just asking someone how they feel and be clear before assuming.
- Expect the best from other people- give them the chance to rise to your expectations!
In Situations
- Always expect good things in life and you’ll open the doors to many opportunities that would otherwise be overlooked.
-And when  “unexpected”(maybe undesired) outcomes occur look  for the opportunities they may present to learn or live a little differently.
- Practise “Manifesting” positive outcomes:
1.       When you really want an outcome in your life say in your mind  “I will have….”Or “… will happen” -every day
2.       Daily, visualise the changes this outcome will bring in your life.
3.       Consider making an audio cassette and listen to what you “will have.”
4.       Pay attention for the things that happen in your life that may bring your desired outcome to pass.
5.       Pay attention for any life events/ opportunities that may allow it to happen.

And while working on practising positive thinking we had these ideas:
§  As a negative thought enters your mind notice it and then stop it from fully forming

§  As a negative thought enters your mind notice it and replace it with a positive, more proactive, one.

The benefits of positive thinking ? 
- Fewer difficulties noticed
-Wealth of soul,
- The ability to rise above obstacles
-Positive thinkers are nice to be with……….so others are drawn to them and, perhaps, will bring opportunities their way.

Not to suggest any of this is easy (especially on this planet at this time) but with practise positive attitude/thinking has that potential to make your life everything it can be-rather than more limited.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Just an Opinion

The last couple of weeks I have been in discomfort with a bulging disc in my lumbar spine. It's been an interesting process to get to that diagnosis, and the process got me thinking about "opinions."
Sometimes we can allow ourselves to believe that something stated is a fact, when it is really only an opinion......
In my case the pain began in my back about 8 weeks ago- bothering my sleep so that got my full attention!. Based on some simple tests we can perform in our workplace I had some remedial massage and some 
ortho-bionomy treatments. It appeared my pelvis was rotated, my upper leg was rotated, and my L5 vertebrae was not moving as freely as it should have been. Treatment helped but the pain persisted so, as with any client I might not be able to give some relief to, I referred myself on....  So I ventured to my Osteopath with my symptoms. Her diagnosis concurred with our own and her treatment was similar with the initial inclusion of some high velocity manipulations to free up my L5 area. That seemed to increase the pain initially (and my disturbed sleep), so I sought the involvement of a Physiotherapist....who also concurred with the rotated pelvis diagnosis and treated with more gentle joint manipulation. But still the pain persisted after 3 treatments.
So finally I went to my Doctor. He was very thorough with all sorts of movement checks and decided to send me for some radiology- X-rays, ultrasounds, and CT scan. The result showed I had a bulging disc between L4 and L5. So now I know exactly what I need to do to nurse the problem till the disc settles back into its "home" again. I was able to return to my Osteopath, tell her what was going on, and she can now specifically treat me. I also have a range of "self-care" options to care for my back while the disc repairs.
All the treatments helped me, but what I realised was that until the radiologist had a look inside the outer casing of my body, I was accepting each new health profession's opinion as having the correct answer- especially as they all concurred. And no doubt each diagnosis was correct, but the underlying cause( the disc bulge) was not being acknowledged or treated. Each Professional was giving me their opinion, and because I kept hearing the same diagnosis, I was accepting it as fact- and this time it wasn't!
 This experience gave me a wake up call because I do try not to "jump to assumptions" but I guess this was "too close to home" and I was pretty immersed in the symptoms. Then when I looked out into the wider world it reinforced that thought......
This week Lindy Chamberlain was able to, finally, after a final( I hope, for her sake) coronial inquest, be completely absolved of any wrong doing in the tragic death of her 2-month-old baby Azaria in 1980....that in fact a dingo had killed her small baby. I was a very young woman during Lindy's original trial, but remember all the media sources seemed to be of the "opinion" and suggestion that the dingo accusation was absurd and that, based on Lindy's calm and stoic demeanour during her trial, devout(often described as radical) religious beliefs, and reluctance to speak with media she was clearly guilty. I think that many Australians, hearing that opinion often enough, began to consider it as fact.... it makes it difficult to truly receive a fair trial!
I was able to watch the Eddie Mabo story this week and, sadly, realised that traditional land rights of our indigenous Australians was a hard fought case. With Eddie Mabo finally winning his land rights claim- whereupon lands that had been cared for, farmed, and handed down through aboriginal families for generations could no longer be taken from them by the Commonwealth. It struck down the past doctrine that Australia was Terra nullius - a land belonging to no-one. And allowed that compensation be payable by the Government on successful native title claims. The respect  I suddenly felt for displaced Indigenous Australians since European settlement overwhelmed me and I felt embarrassed that I had allowed myself to be mislead by media opinion of the times.
It leads me to try not to have an opinion regarding the "bad" behaviour reported of Australia's sporting stars, and likewise our politicians when reports first surface because, again, they are often just opinions of "informed sources."
 Looking beyond our own country we now hear in all the media of trouble and strife in Syria and possible need for U.S.( and allied) intervention. So now I am starting to question this "opinion" in the media. It sounds like the same "recipe" we saw in Libya( does anyone believe there ever were any "weapons of mass destruction"?), Afghanistan, and Iraq....
 It's all reinforcing my belief that until I see with my own eyes, and hear with my own ears, that I will resist the urge to form an  "opinion" based on what others may tell me.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Acting Locally

These are challenging times in which we live!

Such a lot of strife in the world- conveyed globally by the media and resulting in negativity.
 Maybe there is a feeling of futility for some; a sense of being too "small a pixel in a big picture" for others; or a belief of "why should I if nobody else is bothering?" The big picture can seem daunting.  And perpetuating negative thoughts, information and actions are ridiculously infectious! My belief is that this negativity is actually what is making our planet and our global community sick. I also think the planet will heal herself – she is pretty powerful and the world weather reminds us of that often. But the global community is something I really feel we (people) can and do need to work on if we are to survive.

It's probably accurate that thinking globally, with regard to directly effecting positive solutions, is unachievable for most folks. But I have a strong belief, based on personal, observable experience, that acting locally, can give noticeable outcomes that are fabulously achievable. I have observed that positive thought, information and actions are even more infectious than the negatives.... and the energy they create is of a healing nature. I believe (as I know many, many others do also) that if enough of us act locally we can reach global proportions and heal the global community. It will take time, and patience. But how many scientists, authors, academics etc. didn't see the true benefit of their work blossom throughout the world, in their own lifetimes? So we shouldn’t let a less than immediate response stop us.

So, I am determined to focus my energy on positive local effort. Specifically, one way I have determined do that is to show gratitude in all my interactions with others. In my experience showing genuine gratitude to the people in my immediate world encourages people to do further good deeds. It sets a great example to others. And those who receive genuine gratitude start to pass it on to others.  When I verbally acknowledge the kind acts of another, and show gratitude I feel like it creates a positive link between my spirit and theirs. And we both smile! It costs nothing, yet feels worth a million dollars. Its uplifting for both the giver and the receiver. Yet it is often overlooked in our interactions. We might say we feel grateful but if we don’t show it how will anyone deserving of your gratitude know?
Let me give you some examples of how easy it is to acknowledge and show gratitude to others in your day....
This week I smiled, showed genuine gratitude and said thank you for the act...

Any time my husband made me a cup of tea ( or did anything else for me) I said “ thank you that tea was delicious;”

To each client I spent time with because they trusted me enough to include me in their wellness plan, I said “thankyou for the trust you put in me;”

To the workplace HR manager who organised a work-life balance workshop with me because she values the happiness of her staff I said, “thankyou for valuing the well-being of your staff;”

To the man who stopped at the crossing for me on Tuesday, I said “ thankyou” and gave him a wave;

To the ladies at the new delicatessen for letting me try the lovely King Island cheeses before I chose and bought, I said “ thanks for the chance to try before buying;”

To every retailer I spent money with- not for the items( I paid for them) but for their service, I said “ thank you so much;”

To the lady at the coffee shop because she knows I am only on a short break and makes my decaff "in a flash" I said “thankyou for the quick service;”

To the pet shop man because he took time to tell me how to care for the gold fish I purchased, I said “ thank you for the helpful information and the time you took to explain;”

To my Homoeopath for the diligence and patience she displayed when explaining her treatment to me,
I said “ thanks so much for your patience- now I understand;”

To my hairdresser and her co-worker who did a great job achieving the "look" I asked for, I said “ thank you for the special effort you go to;”

To my friend Cate who lets me practise newly learnt treatments on her, I said “ thank you for trusting me and making the time available I appreciate it so much;”

To the client for whom I was running late- for showing such patience, I said “ thanks so much for your patience.”

Every single time the person I showed gratitude to smiled right back at me. Now that’s not a surprise – but the point is without showing the gratitude that would be one less smile I would have seen in my day, and one less connection made with another soul. It's an opportunity to positively “lift” someone’s mood. And along the way it lifts your own mood into a really positive place.
I like to think how great it will be when each of those gratitude recipients acts in kind. It's starting locally....but eventually I think it can have a global effect.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

You Be the Judge

Recently, I've been thinking  lot about the concept of judgement .
People get so worried about the judgement that may be bestowed upon them.  I wonder  how much we allow the fear of being judged to limit the choices we make in our actions, our words, our lives?
I don't mean the judgements you might expect to be directed at actions that would cause physical or emotional harm to another person ( or any living thing). I am referring to the fears of judgement that stop us considering a course of action because someone else might think it's "silly", "selfish", "immature", "wasteful", or "risky".......that you might be judged in a way that you don't feel comfortable with if you "reach" for something that excites you.
I wonder how many careers, hobbies, shopping expeditions, kick-your-heels up experiences, any kind of fun-loving opportunities, or even time to chill-out-and-do-nothing, people disregard for fear of judgement. Or for that matter, I wonder how many things people do out of obligation for fear of being judged otherwise?
So here are a few ideas I think it's worth considering about the judgement concept.
In acknowledging that we might be judged we allow what may be going on in another person's mind to control our lives. Something not even out there in the world but in their mind. And only maybe- because most of us can't read  minds! So how would you know anyway. Yet people let this idea stifle action that might bring them joy.
I am all about the moments of joy this life is meant to bring us.
Surely it has to be at least worth talking about your "dream", no matter it's size, before you make assumptions that judgement will follow any action.
 I think we care most about the judgement of those we care the most for....strange, because wouldn't our loved ones  want us to be happy? I certainly think the happiness of those I love is important and that they need to live "happiness focussed" lives. And yet we don't always remember that fact, when it comes to our own happiness.
I've also realised  that you can only "be" judged if you allow yourself to be. I mean, it's not like being caught in a shower of rain without an umbrella, or sprinkled with stardust(sadly, because that sounds nice). Judgement is not a physical experience. But people do allow it to manifest  physical symptoms- sadness, embarrassment, remorse, resentment. Those emotions are pretty damaging for relationships! Maybe better to ignore the judgement and be happy.....
For me, if the thought of any new course of action( no matter how "big" or "small") makes me smile or gives me a "buzz"  that's all the guidance I need to act and I don't consider how others might "judge" me for being ......who I am.
Whenever a thought of, " Oh, but what might others think ?" occassionally enters my head I remind  myself that they are possibly so absorbed with what others are thinking of them that they are not even concerned with my progress! And further, maybe if they do notice they might see the joy that ignoring fear of judgement brings me. They might be inspired themselves.
I imagine a lot of very happy, successful people are happy and successful because they have mastered the art of ignoring the concept of judgement.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

In the Eye of the Beholder

Trevor is an avid amateur photographer. We enjoy hikiing and bushwalking and he has taken some beautiful photos over the last few years.
Recently I was speaking to a lady who also enjoys photography- a georgous lady who has an inspiringly positive outlook on life. And she inspired me enough to share this idea of hers........
She told me that nowadays, whenever she takes a photo of a person, she asks that person what they are thinking about, at that moment? She feels this way she captures not just their physical form in the photographic image, but also a little of where they are emotionally and mentally at that moment as well.  Then, when she looks back at her photographs, she can often remember the thoughts they shared- and it creates a more enhanced "image" beyond that which she would otherwise see. Preserving more than just an image for her and reminding her of the "wholeness" of the person- and not only the 2-dimensional photographic image.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Mothers Way

Over my life I have had the tendency to try to control things/situations/outcomes.  I think that is a fairly common  character trait I developed raising a family and building a business and being responsible for more that myself. But in the last few years I have learned to let go of that urge. I have my Mum to thank for that......
 Not because of anything inspirational she has said, or any wonderful thought provoking "advice" she has given me.... but because the circumstances in our lives have changed quite drastically over the last few years and I have, to a certain degree, become a carer for certain aspects of Mum's life. Along with that comes the opportunity to make her life more comfortable/ liveable/ easy/ even occassionally fun. But I have realised that all of those things that I think she would enjoy in her life, are just the things that  I would like- if I were in her circumstances. For her it can create unease, and often a failure to enjoy.... because it is "sameness" that she so enjoys- not change
It has taken quite a few years for me to understand and accept that, but now that I have it is really very "freeing."
Now when I visit her and suggest we go out for coffee and she says she'd prefer to stay at home, I don't try and coax. I don't disregard her choice. So gone are the days of me feeling frustrated while she takes hours to decide what to wear ( short term memory loss is a bitch); locks, and relocks and double checks the locks on the doors; tells me everything I'm doing dangerously on the drive (36 years driving experience and no accidents!); then(God love her) walking in the mall with her poor arthritic knees at a pace that requires me to take a step, count to 5, then take my next step, count to 5 and on and on..... so as not to have her feel hurried.  Really, how did it take me so long to accept this was not something she enjoyed!
As I think back I recall coaxing her to buy a much needed new recliner chair for her TV was months before she accepted it to be anywhere near as good as her old threadbare recliner. I felt like I had tried to replace a beloved friend with an uncaring imitation!
Then there was the time a pipe burst and flooded her bathroom, warping all the cupboards and vanity unit. She was reluctant to phone the insurers to have repairs and replacements carried out (hates change), so months later I organised it, with her begrudging consent. Rather than being happy to have a new bathroom, she was unhappy with the white vanity - Mum still doesn't believe me that they don't make pink ones any more, at the price she was prepared to pay! She also swears a later increase in cockroach numbers was the result of cockroach eggs in the new timbers!
Each time I felt a little frustrated for what I considered to be her lack of gratitude and confused that she didn't appreciate her improved circumstances. But  now I realise I wasn't doing these things for Mum, rather I was doing them because they would make me happy, if I were in her circumstances- but I'm not! So how could I know what is best. She's helped me realise what is best, for any capable person, is the decision they have reached for themselves........
So, now, when Mum says "No thanks..." I don't push. These days I ask if there is anything she would like organised and only act if she ask. If I notice something is needed in her household I mention that, and wait for her direction. Finally,I accept her choice to make her own decisions. It's still a challenge not to coax- but on the other hand very freeing because it's a lot less self imposed effort, and I no longer get frustrated at outcomes I have not expected( i.e. her lack of enjoyment). I've noticed too, she now says "yes" more often! She even sometimes initiates! What's that about??:)
And beyond my family issue, this approach really helps me to accept the different ways people look at the world and the different ways they choose to live in it.
Thanks, Mum

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Living in this Moment

Today  I had a walk along the beach.
It was beautiful weather- a very mild autumn day.
As I walked I was thinking that I hadn't spent time meditating recently. I like to meditate, and I find it "grounds" me and unclutters my mind- makes me better! But I just hadn't made the time recently.
So I decided to meditate as I walked....
Over the years I have facilitated lots of meditation groups and a meditation technique that I think works well is a "living in the moment" meditation. This is not something I developed, I just give it that name.  I don't recall where or when I first heard of it- but I adapt it and use it often. I love it because you can use it anywhere for any duration. So you don't need to take yourself off to a quiet, darkened room.
"Living in the moment" is as simple as paying attention to every aspect of your surroundings. If you think about it life rarely allows us to do that!
 When you do take the time to pay attention you might notice aspects such as colour, texture, odour, sound, beauty, distinction, temperature.......the list is endless depending on your ability to observe, and the surroundings you are in. The point is you become absorbed in the process, which gives your mind a chance to slow down, stress levels to reduce, worries to subside. It doesn't take your worries away permanently, but I find at the end of time spent "living in the moment" I am more able to focus and more peaceful and effective when I resume "real life."
As I walked along the foreshore today I noticed so many aspects- the ways the grasses moved in the wind, the way the sunshine made the grass seeds sparkle, the wind on my face, the warmth of the sun on my body, the way my feet felt on the sand, on the water, on the grass, the temperature of each of those, the flocks of birds, their colours, their sounds, their movement in flight. The smell of the saltwater.  I touched some flowers and felt their moisture, the temperature, the texture, their colour. I noticed the change in my leg muscles as I walked uphill and then down. I sat on the beach for a few moments and felt the temperature of the sand under my legs,and noticed it's texture, it's dryness and how it fell through my fingers when I picked up a handful. As I walked I paid attention to everything around me. Really feeling I was there in both body and ( more importantly) mind. I walked for about an hour and, sure, at times my thoughts drifted away from the moment but when they did I just brought them back by being attentive to something nearby. Its such a simple way to meditate, and destress.
You can use this in any activity you are doing alone really- washing up, taking a bath, sitting in a garden, at a train station or bus stop, having a meal, lying in bed.  The things you notice will vary upon the activity, but the quality and usefulness of the meditation will still be wonderful.
In a class I conduct I have a bag of "living in the moment" objects. Small things of all shapes, sizes, colours, textures etc. I have attendees pass the bag around  and select one object. Then I talk them through a meditation that encourages them to look at every aspect of the object as they hold it in their hand. Try it just for 10 minutes. And, as with any meditation, if your mind wanders away, gently bring it back to the object. It takes some practise but it's so worth the time.

Delight in the "Rightness"

So many people I meet don't seem to have any expectation that we humans have every right to be happy. They seem to expect the worst from their encounters with others, and life in general. "Life wasn't meant to be easy" is quoted by many- as they give up on seeing joy in any interaction..... let alone believing they may find  joy in every interaction. Some people seem to go through life expecting the worst outcomes every time!
 George Bernard Shaw's original quote was "Life wasn't meant to be easy, my child; but take courage: it can be delightful." The Oxford dictionary tells me the word delightful is a noun and means "gives great pleasure."
Certainly many of life's experiences don't  immediately give great pleasure- often quite the opposite. But I firmly believe, and live with the attitude, that there is always a "rightness" in everything that comes my way (actually everything I bring my way is more how I look at life). I find that delightful.
 My attitude these days is not "Why did this happen to me?" but rather "Why did this happen for me?" It makes sense to me that each moment of my life is occurring,with purpose, for me. That opportunities are presented for me to, firstly, notice and then act upon should I choose. I find that even more delightful.
Let me give you an example.......
About 23 years ago my husband and I lost our unborn daughter. I was 21 weeks pregnant, her condition was "incompatible with life" and it felt like the greatest tragedy I had ever had to endure. I found that many of my friends just didn't know what to say- so many said nothing and that seemed kind of cruel to me at the time. Family, out of love, just wanted me to "put it behind me and try again." Of course the Doctor reassured my husband and I that this was "purely bad luck" and there was no reason to think we could not have healthy children because we already had a beautiful 1 year old daughter .
Blahhh! My mood felt very dark, but the cloud eventually lifted, and we did indeed have 2 more beautiful, healthy children. We "moved on" as some might say. But it was years later, after lots of living, experiences, interactions with others, observation and meditation that I realised that tragedy happened for me. You see, prior to losing our baby I had been involved in a community support group for new mothers and had been invited to train as a counsellor. I had declined that opportunity because I felt I was not emotionally equipped with the life skills to offer the kind of support required. But a couple of months after our baby died, I realised I had a sense of compassion that I now wanted to channel into that counselling. A few years of counselling then led me into training others within that community organisation. I remained involved for nearly 10 years. Over the years those counselling and empathy skills probably saved my marriage many times over, assisted me in being the best mother I could be (in fact probably the best person I could be), led me to studies in the areas of caring for others, and allowed me to develop a sense of empathy which greatly assists me in the business I now operate.
23 years ago I could not have imagined any "rightness" coming from the loss of our baby. But now I see how the sacrifice I believe that little soul made with her brief life, steered my own life in directions it would otherwise never have gone. It is with so much gratitude that I think of her. One event just seemed to lead to so many others......
Having had that experience, and seeing the pathway it led me along has allowed me to look for the rightness, rather than remaining focused on the difficulty, in life's challenges. Sometimes I just think, "what can I learn from this?" ( In that particular case I learnt straight away that it hurts more not to acknowledge a friend's grief than to simply say "I'm sorry for your loss." Now I do that.) For several years I have lived with this concept. It's not always obvious, and often not easy in challenging situations, but it gives me a sense of peace - and hope every time. on a day to day basis it works like this.....When I have a client cancel at the last minute I think " what can I use this time for, why was it given to me?" Perhaps bookwork, meditation, study, rest, catch up with a friend....  I always know there is a wonderful purpose for that time now available to me. When I am unexpectedly stuck in traffic, I consider that I am delayed to arrive at just the right time- perhaps to avoid or encounter some other situation than if I arrived on time. When my 16-year-old child suddenly became unwell, had to leave school and begin home schooling (that was a working parent's challenge!) I was able to acknowledge I was being presented the chance to develop patience, tolerance, and we spoke about how she would also gain tolerance for others "outside" the "normal" for teenagers. When our luggage got lost on an airline flight I was grateful it was a domestic flight, and felt grateful to think I had a gentle lesson to purchase travel insurance-especially on any future international flights. If rain puts an end to plans outdoors I think about all the indoor opportunities. When my darling Dad was dying and I travelled several hours to and fro to visit him each week, I felt blessed to have that chance rather than suddenly lose him. And on and on it goes...... find the rightness and you'll find some peace.