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.