Things I love Thursday

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DAY 58

27th February, 2014

Yay! It’s Things I love Thursday! So much to share!

Things I have loved this past week: sleeping and dreaming until midday surrounded by my fury friends, MiMi and Cuba; drinking champagne with my girlfriends (perhaps a little too much?) and singing along with the cast of Grease The Musical, way too much fun! Celebrating my great nephews first birthday, with a bbq at a fantastic children’s playground on the beachfront, and lets face it, little people celebrating first birthdays are really very cute; being curled up on the couch, catching up on a backlog of The Vampire Diaries; having a lovely and unexpected chat with a couple of ladies that I helped – manoeuvring wheel chairs can be tricky! people watching on the trams, so many interesting folks around ~ in particular seeing how many people I can make smile in a day ~ such an awesome feeling when a grumpy waitress ends up laughing! snuggling with my man of course; having yummy Korean BBQ dinner at the local Victoria Market with some hysterical friends who never fail to make me laugh; my new VS hair dryer…I know, but it beats washing my hair the night before and drying it in front of the heater; reading The Desire Map by Daniele LaPorte…I can’t put this book down! making some space to do a bit of desire mapping…of course; hanging out and talking non-stop with my sister from another lifetime and wishing she didn’t have to head back to the UK; editing out last season 1 episode for our show, It’s Japan, Man! and especially loving putting the ‘looking back’ segment together ~ we have learnt so much from when we started and we are so glad that we have just given it a go, instead of waiting for all of our ducks to line up! meeting up with some people from Channel 31 for some very helpful chats and finally, being on holidays, eating lots of chocolate and freshly baked cupcakes and starting to feel human again…

Hope you have all had a lovely week too.

 

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Born

hope

DAY 56

25th February, 2014

BORN

It was Spring when you arrived

A cool early morning

A team of nurses and surgeons brought you into the world

I was young and exhausted and delirious to have you finally in my arms

Your small head was pointy and sore and you screamed at the world around you

Such a little thing

Demanding so much attention

We loved you to sleep

We rocked you and held you until you knew we were there for you

And when you finally smiled it was a good day

We felt blessed through our sleepless nights

Completely thankful that you had chosen us to nurture you, to teach you how to make your way in the world

And as you thrived and grew and danced through the neighbourhood

We smiled with pride

We made you

We were responsible for the boy you had become

Such a lofty place to fall from, so high above, so far away

Such a big thing you have grown to be

So strong, so clever, so sick

We don’t smile so much any more

We step on egg shells and wonder where we went wrong

What did we not see

Did you not feel our love?

As you struggled and fought through the neighbourhood

Did you not realise we were proud of you?

As you left to be alone

It was Summer when we realised that we couldn’t help you,

A long dark evening stifled with heat

I am old and exhausted

But I am still delirious to have you in my arms.

Caz Espinoza, 25th February, 2014

“Remember, Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”
― Stephen King

9 TLC favourites for when you are exhausted

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DAY 55

24th February, 2014

There are some days that you really have no option but to take care of yourself. There are days that you can push through the pain and stretch yourself until you reach new and dizzying heights. Then there are days that you need to walk away, nurture your team of thousands of tiny cells and live to fight another day.

Here’s my top 9 TLC favourites!

  • Go to bed. No-one really cares if it’s 2 in the afternoon. Put yourself to bed!
  • Wear something comfortable, like your favourite pyjamas or sweat pants, or boxers and a singlet; something that you feel great in!
  • Before you jump in between the sheets, make sure they are fresh, and that you have plenty of pillows and your favourite blanket or throw to keep you warm and comforted. Maybe a fragrant heat pack will feel calming? The idea is to surround yourself with things that make you feel safe and cared for – even if you are caring for yourself.
  • Take a pot of herbal tea with you. Make sure that you set up a tea tray that makes you feel cared for. Include some fresh honey, a lovely mug or tea cup and saucer, some napkins and cover your tea pot to keep your tea warm. Or perhaps some hot chocolate is more your style?
  • Take some extra yummy supplies. This may be some chocolate, some pastries like an almond croissant, or some fresh fruit salad; whatever floats your boat!
  • Bring along an easy read. This isn’t the time to wade through your text book or read the latest award winning piece of literature. You want to read something gentle and preferable sweet. Extremely sweet. And uplifting. And something with a bit of sunshine and hope. Get the picture?
  • Dock your ipod and play some good music, or a listen to an inspirational author. Now isn’t the time to play the latest NIN CD, but if you have something uplifting, or soothing then play away.
  • Watch your favourite comedy, a romantic flick or a kids film. Anything that might give you a giggle, or reinstate your faith in humanity again.
  • Sleep! Close the blinds, shut the curtains and give yourself permission to take a nap! It will give your brain and your body a chance to recuperate.

“By loving you more, you love the person you are caring for more. ”
― Peggi SpeersThe Inspired Caregiver: Finding Joy While Caring for Those You Love

Share It Forward Sunday

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DAY 54

22nd February, 2014

Today I wanted to share a post that came through on Facebook last week from sunnyskyz.com. If you haven’t heard of them before check them out. It’s an awesome website focussing on inspirational, positive and upbeat news stories. Way more fun than the 6 o’clock news!

Anyway, this beautiful story about a father’s letter to his daughter made me cry. It also made me feel beautiful. I hope that you love it too.

Click the link here

** Painting by Nicoletta Ceccoli

The definition of insanity

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DAY 53

22nd February, 2014

I had to wonder why I was here.

Here, at the table, having the same conversation, with the same friend about the same thing. The same conversation that we have been having for nearly four years.

Yep – you have that right. Four years!

Insane right? Well maybe.

What do they say the definition of insanity is? Doing exactly the same thing over and over, expecting a different outcome? Well here I was, asking my friend to see what I see every day. She is an extremely talented artist. Her work is quirky, dark and seriously awesome. So many people love her work. But she doesn’t see it. And here I was telling her the same thing…doing the same thing, and expecting a different outcome.

I had to wonder why she was in my life. I believe that people can come into your life, not only because they need you, but because you need them. You each have lessons to learn from each other. Ever had that weird scenario where it seems everyone you come across has the same stuff going on? Often it’s because you are the one who needs to change. Not them. The lesson isn’t about them, it’s about you. Surrounded by emotional vampires? Then perhaps the lesson is about you valuing yourself and your time and learning to say no.

So perhaps this situation wasn’t about what my friend wasn’t seeing. Maybe this was about what I wasn’t seeing?

Whenever I need to clear my head and think I either go for a walk to the beach, or I put on some loud music and dance. In this instance I headed down to the beach. There is a little old park bench I like to sit on, that has a great view of the city across Port Phillip Bay. Sitting there in the sun, listening to the waves lap up against the moored yachts, I pondered the facts.

My friend is a talented visual artist who is afraid of following her dreams. So she clings to the devil she knows. It’s something I totally understand, having been a single mother for a while an needed to pay the bills and feed my children. But denying her passion visibly eats away at her and almost every week she looks ragged or falls sick. Incredibly sick. It’s as if you can see her soul crying out to be released. The pain of her choice is etched into her skin, the fear of taking a risk on her ability as an artist, sits like a dark phantom behind her eyes. Whenever she has some time off, or a weekend where she has spent the time drawing and painting, it’s as if she transforms; her smile dazzles, her energy lifts and you literally see her breathe again.

As her friend, I don’t know what to do. I no longer know what to say to her and I am at a loss as to how to help her.

So what am I missing here?

Sitting on that bench, it didn’t take long to realise that I am a reflection of my friend. Perhaps not in all ways, but in some.

The very things that I have been trying to tell her, are perhaps the very things that I needed to hear myself.

It is no coincidence that I am surrounded by artists, film makers, writers, dancers and actors. Over the years I have left behind many of my artistic passions and pursuits for a steady income, and a professional career. Have I died a little? Maybe. Have I been afraid to follow my artistic dreams. Of course. And it has made me sick at times; cemented the fear and the pain in my heart. It’s not that I don’t love my day job. I do. But I have forgotten what it is like to create another world with words and to take people on a journey across my universe.

Until I started the DBM project, I hadn’t written a story or a poem for over 25 years. That’s a very long time for a writer to stay silent. It’s a lot of stories to keep buried beneath my skin. It is, quite simply, the very definition of insanity.

That day sitting on the park bench looking at the view of the city and the bay feeding into the sea beyond, I made a promise to myself. That I would listen to my gut and be the writer I have always been.

That was Christmas Eve 2013. A week later, on New Years Eve I started to write again. The Dead Before Midnight Project was born.

I’m still not sure how to help my friend, but I think I am a much better friend to her as the writer I always meant to be.

“I dream my painting and I paint my dream.”
― Vincent van Gogh

The Hungry Ghost

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DAY 52

21st February, 2014

A few weeks ago a good friend of mine suggested that I should read The Desire Map, by Danielle LaPorte. So I jumped on Amazon.com to check it out and ended up on Danielle’s website listening to a ‘sneak peak’ of her book. The Desire Map is an approach to planning your life using your core desired feelings as a driver to achieve your goals. Of course her work is so much more advanced than my own, but I was amazed to find my own feelings about our goals being driven by the strength of our passion being echoed in her words.

So, I bought the book and the CD to listen to in the car. Just a heads up, Danielle has one ‘hot mamma’ voice! I think I listened to the CD twice before I actually heard her words! Anyway, before doing any goal setting, or working through your core desired feelings, Danielle talks about identifying what you already have in your life. Who are you already? What are you grateful for and why? It’s an interesting thing to consider. Particularly when we invest so much time setting goals, striving to achieve the next big thing, or purchase the next ‘must have’ item on our bucket list. We are often left with a never ending, exhausting ‘to do’ list. We no sooner achieve that raise, or buy that car, and it’s replaced with another goal. I hadn’t considered that I may be approaching my life from the wrong angle. It seemed I was coming from a place of emptiness; a perpetual void that screamed to be fed. A hungry ghost.

The Buddhist’s believe the hungry ghost is not fully capable of living and appreciating what the moment has to offer. They are ever seeking to be fulfilled like an insatiable addict, never realising what they already have.

So today, as I sat in a crowded public hospital waiting room, waiting to see a specialist, I considered what I already have. It seemed as good a time as any, and far more preferable than feeling anxious and sorry for myself.

I pulled out my journal and wrote down the following:

I get to spend my life with a man who is beautiful, gentle and romantic. Every morning he tells me I am his beautiful girl, and how lucky he is to have me in his life and I feel loved and cherished. I have four crazy, determined, creative and talented sons and an equally determined and amazing daughter in law. I love that I am a part of their adult lives and that no matter what, we stick together, we fight for each other and we love each other to bits. I am blessed beyond belief with my grandson. A day singing lullabies and eating mashed banana feels like heaven on a stick and never fails to remind me of all the goodness and beauty in the world as he snuggles into my arms to sleep.

Every day I get to go to work in a sector that supports young people. Some days are heartbreaking, but I work with a vibrant team of people that I absolutely love, who are just as passionate as I am about making a difference in young peoples lives. I am also surrounded by some amazing and beautiful friends who are always there for a dance or a glass of wine…or with chocolate, or a care package…or at the other end of a midnight phone call when I need them.

And what about me?

As a human being?

Well I am lucky enough to have grown up in a part of the world where most of my needs are met. I am smart and creative. Sometimes I am cheeky. I get to ‘play’. A lot. I come with a small truck load of professional and personal skills, all based on the simple fact that I grew up in a country where girls are educated, university is affordable, healthcare is free, and wars have never been fought in my backyard.

The truth is, that in this world, I am one of the fortunate ones.

Which made me laugh at my hungry ghost. Right there in the hospital waiting room. My screaming hungry ghost was wrong it seemed. I wasn’t empty, needing to be filled. I wasn’t lacking. I wasn’t poor. I was rich. It seemed that I am already living a very full and abundant life.

When you start from a place of strength and gratefulness for what already exists, you approach your life and your plans from a very different place. Instead of crying for your empty void to be filled, you look for opportunities to add, to strengthen. You also shift from being a victim in your life, to being a creator of your life. You step up into a position of strength and purpose.

So what do you already have in your life that your hungry ghost prevents you from seeing and being grateful for?

“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. It is surprising how contented one can be with nothing definite – only a sense of existence. Well, anything for variety. I am ready to try this for the next ten thousand years, and exhaust it. How sweet to think of! my extremities well charred, and my intellectual part too, so that there is no danger of worm or rot for a long while. My breath is sweet to me. O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.”

 

 

 

 

 

Things I love Thursday

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Day 51

20th February, 2014

There are so many things I have loved this week: being spoilt on Valentines Day ~ especially the beautiful blood red rose my husband gave me; hanging out with the wild blue haired cosplay crew on the film set of It’s Japan, Man; singing KPop songs at the top of my lungs in the car on the way to work! Watching Thor 2~ watching, watching, watching…Playing Mario Kart with the girls at our first ever Wii party; having a deep and meaningful discussion about chasing our dreams with one of my sons over a hot cup of tea; luscious rain; reading The Desire Map ~ such an inspiring book; eating freshly made scones with yummy jam and cream; falling asleep to the sound of rain outside my window; and receiving a huge gift box full of things to help me relax on my holidays from two of my beautiful, thoughtful, and just completely awesome girlfriends ~ especially the panda slippers, chocolates and champagne!

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.”
― Jane AustenNorthanger Abbey

Oblivion

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DAY 50

19th February, 2014

Oblivion

Slide into my skin

give me your breath

that you’ve held back so long

you’re not my kind

cease to exist

give up your blood

and sink into my world

i’ll take your frightened heart

let your soul seep with mine

I’ll shelter your fear

and start the fire

warm you

love you

bury you

take your gift

that you offer up to me so readily

slide into my skin

let me be brave for you

let me add your life

to the legion of

the suffering

the pained

the ones who choose to hold onto darkness

and sink

into oblivion

you are not my kind.

Carol Espinoza, 19th February, 2014

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
― Marianne WilliamsonA Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”

48 Gold stars, and a few trips and falls

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DAY 48

17th February, 2014

Today I realised that I have been on this Dead Before Midnight journey for six weeks.

It’s taken many twists and turns, and every day I have learnt something about myself and how I walk my talk in this world. Some days I am surprised by my actions. I am more generous and caring than I realised! Other days I am confronted with an ugly truth, which compels me to step it up and clean up my act. In my defence, I am committed to this journey. My resolve to be a better human being, to be a leader and hopefully a role model burns inside my heart. So I search out what I think I may need to teach me a better way, or assist me with new thoughts or ideas, and to enrich my soul and open heartedness. There is much reading, and much talking, and plenty of soul searching and accountability!

It has only been six weeks and 48 gold stars  (although who’s counting right?) but I feel like I have been travelling the universe for years. This is predominantly because of the people I am meeting, or re-discovering, and the way I am thinking about my role in their lives, or their role in my lives.

I am convinced that the conversations I am having are meant to be – for the two of us. I am trusting that the lessons learnt are important for my heart and my being – for both of us. And I love, love, love that the time I now take to be present for everyone I meet leads me to feel incredibly grateful for this life; extraordinarily rich.

I didn’t realise that I was working from a deficit model. Always seeing what I didn’t have. Always winging “Why me? Why them?” Always defaulting to a darker place because my view was obscured by a ridiculous idea of success and what I thought it looked like.

But I have so much more than I realised. My life is literally overflowing with beautiful and generous people who care for and love me. I have so much luscious, positive energy flowing around me, and I am gifted with an abundance of opportunities to create something wonderful every single day; Literally EVERY SINGLE DAY! I am so grateful to be able to see this.

Over 48 gold stars I have realised that life has a weird habit of giving back as much as you give. Try spending the day focussed on giving and being grateful for everything that you already have and you will see what I mean. Be determined to give back at every turn, at every possible opportunity. I promise you, you will walk away feeling impossibly richer than when you woke up!

From small offerings like smiling warmly at strangers or saying a kind word to donating money, buying a colleague lunch, or helping someone with their project. Send a gift to someone who would never expect something from you. Simply stop and have a conversation – be genuinely interested and listen. Focus on working through the issue so you can be helpful, not a judgemental road block! Empty your change into the charity tin – all of it! Or better yet, donate that $20 note.

I will never forget my husband and I getting lost in Shibuya, in Tokyo, a few years ago. We were trying to find our friend’s apartment and had gotten confused with the numbering and street signs. We asked a Japanese man who was cycling past us if he spoke English and if he could help us. He was more than happy to, but also wasn’t exactly sure where the apartment was. Instead of leaving us, he took us into the community day centre for older adults, which was a few doors down, to see if they could assist. Within minutes we had a group of staff and our friendly cyclist pouring over a detailed map and helping to find the location. Finally they found where our friend lived and pointed it out on the map, giving us instructions on how to get there. Then our cyclist friend decided that he couldn’t risk us getting lost again, so he walked with us to our friend’s apartment building and again helped us to work the intercom system on security doors at the front of the building. He waited until we were buzzed in before he left us with a friendly wave. WOW! How kind. How generous of him to take time out of his day to help us. All in all it probably took 15 minutes from when we stopped and asked for assistance, but the experience had a massive impact on us and we were incredibly grateful for his help.

Anyway, if you are following my DBM journey, or embarking on a life changing journey of your own, I hope that you too are realising that you are richer than you think you are, and that you are taking the time to give back to the world around you.

“You are essentially who you create yourself to be and all that occurs in your life is the result of your own making.” – Stephen Richards