Share It Forward Sunday

Day 110!!

Today I was inspired to read poetry in bed, laugh and giggle with Amelie, have a bubble bath with a ‘dragon’s egg’, feed my skin with coconut oil, cook fresh vegetable and red lentil soup, eat chocolate, talk with my beautiful dear friends and sons, and have a romantic dinner by candle light with my love.

Look up from your phone…

and if you are feeling a bit more inspired, then put your phone down…and change the world…

Hope your week ahead is extraordinary lovelies!

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Gala Darling Challenge #7 & #8

Gala Darling Challenge

#7  Cover your entire body in cocoa butter & fall asleep.

#8  Indulge in your “guilty pleasures”, whatever they are. (Old episodes of America’s Next Top Model, ginger ale, chocolate cake, romantic comedies, etc.)

Winter has slowly moved back in to town. The air is icy.  and the rain falls in endless quiet monotony. Silence falls like a blanket of fog, muffling the city close by. Open fires are being lit for the first time in a year and the warmth of fluffy rugs, slippers, candles wrap around us. Today was the perfect day to focus on myself.

I put aside the ‘List of things to do’ and snuggled under the doona a bit longer. My cat, MiMi, cooed contently next to me and wrapped her tail over my arm. Cuba, my puppy, had already burrowed under the blankets and was snoring quietly at my feet.

The plan for today? Coco butter, a long hot bubble bath, the rest of the chocolate Easter goodies, perhaps a nap and some of my favourite romantic comedies…

Ahead of me stretched hours of looking after myself. Pure luxury…and pampering and guilty pleasures!

*sigh*

Things I love Thursday!

Today I was reminded of how extremely fortunate and lucky I am in my life. I wake up every day to a man who I love to bits, and who loves me back. I go to work with a group of inspirational people who work incredibly hard to make the world a better place for the young people we work with. I am endlessly blessed by four beautiful sons, the extraordinary women in their lives and a grandson who brings us all light and love. I live in a safe corner of the world ~ an educated, free woman who gets to influence the world around us. I have dear friends and an even dearer extended family…why am I telling you this? Because it seems to me that we are taught to live a life from a place of ‘lack’. Our focus always seems to be tuned into what we don’t have. We easily see what is wrong, bad, sad or horrendous most of the time and frankly, it’s crap for our health and our fragile spirits. Things I love Thursdays is about opening our eyes and our hearts and changing our mindset to focus on the beautiful, the blissful moments in our day, the luminous. I get seriously excited looking back over the week and remembering what I have loved. It brings me joy. It makes me happy and reminds me that this is what my life is all about. It reminds me that I am living an extraordinary and beautiful life.

Things I have loved this week: having my little grandson snuggle with me all day long; drawing endless butterflies in my brand new sketch book; getting a phone call from Jaz, one of my sons, after his acting class~the complete joy and excitement in his voice says it all! Putting on my brand new black and white Mary Janes; sitting in my new favourite cafe and having the warmth and hum of conversation wrap around me; popping on my cute new Hello Kitty onesie~so much pink, very kawaii; a hug from my beautiful girlfriend just when I needed it; having my adorable sick husband hunt down a movie for me to watch…such a sweetheart; warm fresh scones, jam and cream-there are no words! An awesome lunch in the middle of a work day with an equally awesome and inspiring friend; getting creative with my journal; writing short stories and poems again; hot milky cups of coffee in the middle of the night with my boys; my beautiful son Paris who is wise beyond words; crying, but feeling better for it; people who are unexpectedly kind and generous to me when I most need it; fluffy monster slippers; dreams of my teenage mutant ninja turtle; having over 200 likes for one of my posts!! WOW! Lush coloured pencils to paint and draw with; Planning overseas trips and weddings…getting a bit excited; and this song…

There is no joy without gratitude

smell-the-roses-attitude-of-gratitude-how-to-be-grateful-gratitude-self-help-manifestation-power-of-positive-thinking-grateful-diary-cat-joy-elation-beauty1

DAY 64

5th March, 2014

I’ve spoken quite a bit on this blog about gratitude. I am not alone of course. Just google ‘gratitude’ and you will be inundated with information on the mental and physical health benefits of practicing gratitude, the best ways to practice gratitude and the reasons why practicing gratitude can change your life.

There is a reason why there is a deluge of information about focussing on the present and being grateful for what you already have. It’s because until you are truly grateful for the things in your life that make life worth living, until you stop to smell the roses, you won’t really experience joy.

Have you ever worked your ass off to reach a goal and then when you finally achieved it/bought it/experienced it/ you took a nose dive into depression? The champagne moment lasted for a day or two, maybe a week and then you flat lined and started looking for the next big mountain to climb.

We’ve somehow lost our ability to not only stay in the moment and be present and grateful, but also to enjoy our accomplishments.

It’s as if we have been conditioned to get the task done, tick that goal off, add it to the growing list of accomplishments and then move on to the next one. Well, that’s great right? At the end of our lives we will have this incredible list of achievements read out at our eulogy. People will talk about the thousands of goals we ticked off in our lifetime and…and what?

How is this living our lives? Where are we leaning into that moment of bliss and breathing in the air around us. Are we stopping time to look into the face of our new born babies, or allowing ourselves to laugh for hours with our friends? When are we giving ourselves permission to experience the joy without any strings attached? A luxurious, blissful joy of being here, right now, in this amazing moment.

Over the past few months, I have spent my days considering that everyone I meet may be dead before midnight tonight. It’s a an odd place to be in your head. A little dark,  a bit emo but also liberating. The very idea has allowed me to be thoughtful and generous, well beyond my normal parameters. It has allowed me to say things and do things that I would not have taken the time to do a few months ago. This thought has also sometimes been a reality. People have left this planet. People I know, and people I barely know have passed away over the past two months. Some have been very young, some older, some by unexpected accidents or illnesses, some from long term illness. And I have been reminded of our fragile state. Our humanity.

It has also made me consider my own mortality. I may be planning to be tap dancing until I am 110, but I may not live past tomorrow, so all I really have is today. Today, this moment right now, is all you can be sure of. So it’s important to take the time to really see what you have in your life already, without feeling the tug to get on with something useful…the next big goal. It’s important to experience the joy of being alive, no matter what.

Here are a few of my favourite tips to help you with your gratitude process:

  • Create a gratitude ritual every day – Establish a set time every day. Set up a space so you can think. This could be a quiet time in your day when the baby is asleep, or in the car before you pick up the kids, or as you eat breakfast before the family wakes up. Perhaps you can take a break from work for 25 minutes, or join up with some friends to form a gratitude circle.
  • Set up a Gratitude Journal or a Gratitude Jar – I love both ideas. Your journal can go with you everywhere, and if you are having a rough day, you can read what you have written to remind yourself of all the amazing goodness in your life. I also love the jar idea. Especially if you write each thing you are grateful for on a separate piece of paper. Traditionally these jars are opened on New Years Eve – you can celebrate with a glass of bubbly and by opening your jar and reading all of the extraordinary and amazing things that have happened to you or that you have in your life! What an awesome way to bring in the new year!
  • Write it down – there is so much research now about when we write down what we are thinking it cements it in our head. It’s even better to say what you are grateful for out loud, which is the benefit of a gratitude circle, but if you can’t do that, writing down what you are grateful for will definitely work.
  • Get Specific – Don’t write down “I’m grateful for my family.” This is how gratitude lists get boring and stale very quickly. Be specific. Exactly what are you grateful for, and why? Be very clear about what you have. For example: I’m incredibly grateful for my son, who turns up at all hours of the day and night, stays for about 15 minutes before he is off again, but always gives me a huge hug and a kiss and tells me he loves me. He makes my heart sing! Cool right?
  • Lean into the joy – This is probably best done when you are actually experiencing the moment. Start training yourself to dismiss the doom and gloom thoughts and experience the moment. My husband is a great one for expecting the worst. Every time something amazing happens to him or us, he is terrified of being happy. Why? It’s too good to be true. Nothing can be this good. Something bad is going to happen. He’s not the only one. I feel it too, and talking to many of my friends and family – they also have that feeling. It’s like we can’t get too excited or happy, because we’ll be caught unaware when it all goes south! How insane are we? We can’t be too happy because we might jinx ourselves? It’s a really messed up thought process, and it’s affecting our ability to be grateful and to experience the bliss and joy in our lives. Actually it’s affecting our ability to experience our lives. So it’s time to change that crappy thought process. When something beautiful happens – lean into the moment and be thankful that you are experiencing it. It doesn’t have to be grandiose either! Sit and smell the roses, or the freshly brewed coffee or chai latte. Take the time to pat your beautiful cat or nuzzle with your dog…or whatever you do with your pet snake. Kiss your love…for longer than two seconds, and without thinking about putting on the dinner! Tip toe into your children’s bedroom and watch them sleep. You made those little people. Wow! How precious and amazing is that? Hold hands with your girlfriend/boyfriend/brother/sister/mum/dad and tell them how amazing they are to you. Lie in that bubble bath for hours and breathe…feel how amazing and rich your life is.
  • Take a look around you – Because when you start practicing gratitude on a daily basis, you will start to go through your day looking for it, and you will experience your life in a completely different way.

‘One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.’ – Paulo Coelho

Things I love Thursday

sandybeachgratitude

DAY 44

13th February, 2014

Odd how we can become immersed in the darkness, trapped in a prison made up of our own fears and longings.Our desire holds the key, a step towards freedom and bliss, but we hang back in the shadows, not quite sure which direction to run in.

Listen to your heart. Trust your instinct. Remind yourself about the richness that surrounds you already. You already have much of what you wish for, you just ned to open your eyes to see it.

So today I am practicing gratitude. I am opening my eyes, and my heart. I am being whole hearted. I am being whole hearted and vulnerable and walking out of the prison in my head and I am free.

Today I am celebrating the things over the past week that I have loved: the complete stranger who saved my son, grandson and daughter in law’s lives last night, by alerting them to their house being on fire- he walked off when the fire brigade arrived, before they could thank him properly~ wordless, grateful; not having enough time to catch up/talk/eat with my friend from the UK ~ hysterical, connected; being brought to tears watching my beautiful daughter in law trying on wedding dresses ~ grateful, joy; having a breakfast feast in a favourite cafe ~ sated; relaxing in the cool early morning air before  the summer day heats up ~ peaceful; my grandson curling into me and wrapping his small arms around my neck ~ love, joy ; waking up with my beautiful English Staffy asleep on the bed beside me ~ love; endless “I love you’s” from my sons ~ love, happiness; the mix of creative exhaustion and pride finishing another show ~ creative ; Butterflies. Everywhere ~ soul, spiritual! Views of my home city, Melbourne, from the top of the Exhibition Building – stunning; being kissed until I fall asleep ~ bliss.

A tale of blood and bliss

red wings

There was blood all over the kitchen floor.

My friend was pale and muttered something about lying down for a bit, then he slid down the wall in slow motion and collapsed on my father’s linoleum floor.

I was horrified.

My eyes were fixed on the deep pulsing slash on my friends forehead. How did this happen? Why did we think this was a great idea? No, seriously, how on earth did we think that this was a smart idea?

The massive silver fishing knife was still in my hand. I dropped it on the kitchen bench like an uninvited spider. It clamoured and protested against the modern brown and orange tiles, it’s sharp blade still covered in Colin’s blood.

Colin.

He was still on the floor, his face stark against his black Irish hair.

God, don’t die. Don’t die.

I ran to the bathroom and found a clean towel; when I got back Colin had slumped a little more down the wall. The bleeding looked like it had slowed a little, but I was fourteen. What the hell did I know?

I lay Colin on the floor and firmly pressed the towel down on the deep crimson gash across his forehead. Colin groaned. Good. He was still breathing. That’s good right?

“You’re going to be fine Colin.” Oh god was I going to cry? Don’t bloody cry. Just stop and think.

Okay, so the good news was that Colin was breathing, and (lifting the towel up) the bleeding was stopping…sort of…I think.

I looked around at the kitchen. The floor was covered in blood from when we had sliced the blade across his forehead. Okay. When I had sliced the blade across his forehead. Colin had screamed like I was murdering him and run around the room with his hands over the cut. “Shit! Shit! That bloody hurt!”

At first I had laughed, thinking he was being a baby, but then I had noticed the blood. Pouring through his fingers. Streaming down his beautiful angular face and onto the floor.

“Sit down Colin! God, you’re making a mess. My mum’s going to kill me!”

Yep, she was going to kill me alright. Here I was with a nearly dead boyfriend, and blood everywhere, and no good excuse for not being in school on a school day.

I looked at Colin.

He was breathing, but he still looked pretty white. Yep, smart idea. Pretend Colin had fallen over and cut his head, so we couldn’t go back to school. It had seemed like the perfect story to get off our afternoon classes. Really there is only so much of geography and Miss Burt that we could take.

So we’d decided to cut his forehead with a knife, and that way it would look like  he had really fallen over. We hadn’t accounted for the fact that a cut from a fall would be jagged, and perhaps filled with gravel or dirt, while a knife leaves a distinct slice through the skin; something which a very astute resident pointed out in emergency a few hours later when Colin’s mum took him in for eighteen stitches. We also hadn’t accounted for my enthusiastic approach to every task I am given, and my unexpected skill for filleting fish; or in this case Colin’s head!

Colin opened his eyes.

I let out a huge sigh. Oh thank god. I think it’s going to be alright.

“What are we going to do now then?” He cocked his eyebrow and gave me a grin.

I burst into semi-hysterical giggles.

“Um…clean up?” My eyes looked around the kitchen. Oh great, there’s blood on the fridge as well.

Colin began to sit up and visibly paled again. I pushed him back down on the floor.

“Perhaps you can lay here for a bit while I clean up this mess, and then we can take you to the doctors.”

“Wasn’t quite the way I thought we’d be spending the afternoon…but I guess we’d better get you away from that knife.” he smirked again, then groaned as I punched him in the arm.

“Well I was determined to make sure we did it right!”

Yes, I was determined.

Perhaps I was also a little misguided, and naive, given I was only fourteen. Oh and I was lucky. Bloody lucky that the universe hadn’t allowed me to actually kill or permanently damage my friend. But I was definitely determined to make something happen.

Determined to get what I wanted.

And it’s true, sometimes determination is the great driving force. I don’t want you to think that it’s not. It keeps you focussed on your goals and it helps you to achieve what you want to achieve in your life. We need that fire. My dogged (perhaps a bit more mature an well thought out now that I am older) determination has certainly brought me incredible experiences and achievement.

But we also need to enjoy the moment. To savour what we are experiencing right now.

Sometimes when you are so determined and focussed on controlling everything in your life, things can spiral out of control. No, it’s true, not everyone slices up their friend with a fishing knife, but if t’s all about the goal, the determination, the fire! fire! fire! you can start making insane decisions in an effort to stay in control.

You also forget to enjoy the very moment you are in.

And it’s often in those moments that you find simple, exquisite joy. That you find you can breathe. That you find you have no real control at all, but this is exactly where you want to be; it’s the essence of a life well lived.

So remember to stop the chaos, step away from the knife and make time in your life to be present in the very moment you are living in.

Bliss

Sugarush

DAY TEN

Friday 10th January 2014

I am having a moment. It’s a bit of a ‘happy feet’ moment. I’m not dancing, but I am completely happy.

You know that feeling you get when you are on holidays. You eat good food, you meet new people, you take long walks along the beach in the warm summer nights, you try new things and laugh all the time, you dance to 80″s music, (okay – and some 90’s music) you drink as much as you like and sleep until mid day…then do it all again! You feel like all is well with the world and most importantly you feel like all is well with you. This is how life should be. Blissful. Absolutely and utterly blissful.

This is how I feel. Blissful.

Like this is the kind of life I am meant to be living, and I can barely articulate how good it feels.  There is that odd feeling, like when you walk into a new house and think, “Yep, this is home.” Perhaps that’s it? I am home.

I know that it’s only 10 days that I have been on this journey, and maybe it is a bit like a honey moon period. It’s all a bit new and different. But I am fascinated by how quickly I am adopting a new way of seeing things, and a new way of being, especially the people I come into contact with every day.

It’s a bit like when you first get your driving licence and you take the car out for a spin all by yourself. Apart from freaking out on the inside, you can still hear your instructor or your parents talking you through every step. “Put your seat belt on. Adjust the mirrors. Put the car into reverse. Take the hand brake off, now take your foot off the brake and …” well you know how it is. Then one day, perhaps without even realising, you stop talking yourself through every step of the journey. Driving a car somehow innate; you and the car somehow become one. You can even have a conversation with another person while you drive! Amazing!

Over the past 10 days my thinking has started to become similar.

I don’t always consciously think, “Okay, what if this person was about to die before midnight?”More often I am just  I’ve become better at listening, rather than waiting for the person I am with to draw breathe, and then interjecting with something ‘fascinating’ about me. I’m truly interested in what they have to say. And I am truly happy to be there just for them. Over the past few weeks this has led to so many beautiful conversations and moments, but what is more exciting is how much more vibrant I feel. I literally cannot wait to get up and out into the day. I can’t wait to get to work. I can’t wait to be in the world.

Perhaps this is what flying feels like. Just a little.

It’s definitely blissful, this weird little journey I am on.

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Mahatma Gandhi