Things I love Thursday

tree

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

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The pleasure state

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DAY 46

15th February, 2014

I opened my eyes, and immediately wanted to shut them again. Sharp, stinging pain shot across my brain. Great. I have a headache. Again. Immediately my head was filled with all of the things I needed to get done today. The washing, the food shopping, the house needed cleaning and we had a film shoot. With 5 guest speakers and hosts. There was no way I could cancel  it. We were also racing to meet a deadline to upload the next show to YouTube. Even though our show is an amateur project, we already have hundreds of followers who view the show every week, and send us endless comments and cute emails inspiring us to keep making the show. I couldn’t let them down. And frankly I didn’t want to.

I turned over and repositioned the pillow under my head. Maybe if I lay like this a little longer my head would clear. My cat jumped on the bed next to my head and started to need the pillow and purr in my ear. Seriously MiMi? I opened one eye. She purred even louder and nudged my face. This is code for “Get up! I need to be fed.” Now in the past I may have tried to hunker down under my doona, but I have learnt over the ten years of living with MiMi, she is by far the superior being and will always win out in any battle of wills. Her desire to be fed, is far greater than my desire to sleep. Apparently.

So I dragged myself downstairs with my head pounding, fed MiMi and Cuba (our dog who relies on MiMi to do the dirty work and get me out of bed), put the kettle on and rummaged through the medicine cabinet for pain killers. This was going to be one long day.

What an interesting thought.

Well, if that was my mindset, it was definitely going to be one long day. One painfully long day.

What if I changed my thinking, and instead thought about what an amazing day I was about to have? And what if I looked for the good, the beautiful, the exciting, the best of the day? What if I practiced mindfulness, and focused on breathing, being present and savouring every moment?

What if I chased the pleasure?

So here’s what happened today:

  • Our house was filled with vibrant beautiful young women who are all supercharged about the culture they are a part of, and I got to share that passion too.
  • Coloured wigs, doll like make up, laughter, giggles.
  • The washing got done to blaring music and KPop!
  • I had a moment where I thought, “Wow, I am surrounded by this quirky sense of beauty and it’s so gorgeous!”
  • We ate lots of chocolate. It was fantastic.
  • I filmed some really cool interviews and I learnt so much about Japanese fashion and anime!
  • I got to be creative and craft the stories we tell. Super awesome.
  • I cuddled my husband. I breathed him in and looked into his chocolate brown eyes and felt deliriously happy and content. I am so in love with this man.
  • We planned a trip to Japan around our massive wooden kitchen table. We told lots of crazy stories of our previous travels and now we are going with a huge group! Super excited!
  • I drank copious cups of hot sweet tea. I remembered to breath and smell the tea and be in the moment. It helped me to focus my mind and calm myself.
  • We played Japanese card games late into the night and I won my first ever game! Elated! I felt invincible!

When everyone got up to leave, I was stunned that it was nearly 9.00pm! Wow! Where had the day gone? At some point, my head had completely cleared and although I was tired I felt really happy. I had spent the day doing what I loved. With people I really loved being with. I felt awesome. Empowered. Happy. Changing my mindset and focusing on being mindfulI in the morning, meant that I was now feeling lusciously connected to every moment throughout the day.

It’s true that it wasn’t straight forward. Apparently, my mind is a wild little beast that keeps running away with the wolves, so it takes some effort to pull her back to the moment I am in. To stop and breathe. To feel the pleasure of being me in this life.

But I figure that this is like any other new thing I want to learn. It’s like any other new behaviour or skill. So I am committing to practicing mindfulness for the next 30 days.

That’s it. Just 30 days. Every day.

Of being aware of my mindset.

Of being mindful.

Of creating a pleasure state.

Of taking the time to be me.

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”
― E.E. Cummings

Be still my wandering mind

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DAY 45

14th February, 2014

I pulled into the car park, switched off the ignition and reached across for my bag on the passenger sitting seat beside me. It was 7.00am and I had just arrived at work. I definitely needed a coffee. A skinny latte with two sugars to be exact. I walked across to the little cafe that sits underneath our office building. Jaz, the owner smiled at me as I walked through the door and started to make my usual. I leant against the counter and fished out my phone, checking my face book feed for anyone I knew who may be awake already. Jaz and I swapped money for coffee in a well rehearsed dance. “Have a lovely day!” we both said in unison, as I wandered out the door balancing my coffee and overstuffed work bags.

It wasn’t until I swiped my security card at the front door that I realised what I had done.

As I wandered through the office, turning on the lights, the photocopier, my computer, the kettle and the air conditioner, I wondered how it was at all possible that I had driven for over 45 minutes in semi-peak hour, without thinking. I literally could not remember how I got to work, and I remembered nothing about the trip, until I had pulled into my car park across form Jaz’s cafe.

Of course it wasn’t the first time I had been functioning on automatic pilot. There have been many times I have driven somewhere and not remembered the trip. Or other activities where I can barely remember what I did or what I may have said. Taking a shower in the morning, had somehow  become an opportunity to go through my ‘to do’ list for the day ahead. I barely felt the water, and often forgot if I had shampooed my hair twice, or even put the conditioner in. Talking with my husband, and catching myself midway through the conversation having no idea what he just said ~ my mind had drifted off to some other random thought! I need to finish the washing. I’d better get the dishes stacked in the dish washer. Oh, I forgot to message my sister back about her son’s wedding…the list goes on.

I used to think that I just needed to get better at multitasking, but it turns out that that’s not quite the way to go. Multitasking, once the jewel in our professional skill set, is just a way of doing a ridiculous number of tasks at the same time, and none of them very well.

The recent research on mindfulness, has uncovered that it is much better to focus on one task at a time, and do each task well. Interestingly, this is better for not only our frazzled minds trying to squeeze as many thoughts per second into our heads, it is also much better for our physical health, and surprisingly has a direct impact on the length of our lives.

Dr Craig Hassed, from the Department of General Practitioners, and a leading researcher at Monash University in Melbourne, speaks at length about the importance of mindfulness on our physical health and the impact on reducing ageing, and the risk of major disease and illness, such as heart disease. It’s worth checking out his work, because frankly there is no way in hell I could explain his, or his fellow researchers, amazing work. There’s much about the structure of our DNA and cells…and I’m not that kind of cool scientific girl.

However, the fact that mindfulness assist us to live happier and healthier lives, well, I’m on board with that. How could you not be?

One of the most simple activities you can integrate into your life is To be present in the moment that you are in. Focus on your breathing. Talk yourself through it if your mind keeps wandering off. “Breath in, now I am breathing in. Breathe out, now I am breathing out.” Feel your breath into your body and focus on what it feels like for your breath to exit your body. Connect your body to your breathing as you go, and feel the present moment. If you are in the shower, think about the water. Say to yourself, “Feel the water, focus on the water. Feel how amazing this hot water feels on my body.” As you wash yourself, focus on the smell of the soap, the way it lathers up between your hands. How soft does it feel on your skin? As you wash your hair, focus on the way the shampoo feels, the smell, the warmth of the water. If you find it difficult to stop your mind from wandering off, then talk yourself through the activity you want to be resent for. Feel the towel you wrap around your body as you step out of the shower or the bath. Feel the cool air on your skin. As you eat breakfast, focus on the food you are putting into your mouth. How good does it taste? How warm is your morning cup of coffee or how much does your fresh juice make your taste buds sing? Savour the moment you are in. Be present in your life.

Another way to re-train your wandering mind is through a mindfulness meditation exercise. This helps you to begin to use your mind in a different way and to again focus one thing at a time. It also helps us to focus on the things that are the most useful and helpful in our lives. There are a number of mindful meditation courses offered in community centre or on line that you can google.

However here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier than you need to get up so you have 15 minutes to focus on your breathing. Give yourself permission to lie in bed for 15 minutes and breathe. Remember to talk yourself through breathing in and out if you find your mind wandering off.
  • Make a promise to yourself to be present for the people who move in and out of your world through your day. Remember to look them in the eye. Focus on what they are saying to you. Suspend your own thoughts and answers and truly listen to what the other person is saying. Repeat back to them what they have said so you are sure that you are listening correctly.
  • Experience your life as it is happening. We often only truly experience things when they are special events, such as a wedding, a birthday, a public speaking presentation. We focus because we don’t want to miss anything, or we are anxious about what we are about to do, so our mind becomes hyper vigilant and you can feel every cell in your body as if they are all focussed and standing to attention! So much can occur in our daily life that is just as extraordinary, beautiful and important, but we miss it. We forget to stop and savour the moment that we are in because we have already sprinted ahead to the next item on our list. Stop! Breathe! Savour the moment. Feel that breeze on your face. Listen to the church bells. Smell the ocean on the sea breeze. Feel the warmth of the fire and the love of your partner as you snuggle together on the couch. Feel the exquisite sensation of the ocean on your skin as you take swim in the heat of a late summer afternoon.
  • Taste the food that you eat. Savour every mouth full. Imagine the work and effort that has gone into growing the food and preparing the food before you. Imagine the creativity that has gone into cooking the meal that you are eating. Breathe in the care and the love. Be grateful for the effort that someone else has gone to so that you can eat this meal right now. Be grateful that this food has been grown in the first place, and thankful that you can nourish your body with this amazing produce.
  • Imagine that you are feeding each little cell in your body, caring for them, so they can care for you. Remember that your cells, every single one of them responds to how you feel, not just the food you provide. If you feel stressed, they all feel stressed too. If you are angry or unhappy, they are angry or unhappy too. They only care about you, a bit like your own personal entourage! Make sure that you tell them that you love them. Breathe and focus on each and every cell in your body and let them know how beautiful they are!
  • Be present for every activity in your day. Feel your feet on the floor, or the grass. Breathe. Focus on how you feel when you brush your hair. Breathe. When you shake hands with someone. When you read a story book to a child. When you type up an email. When you kiss your partner. Breathe. Focus. Be completely present and mindful of your life.
  • At the end of the day, before you go to sleep, focus on your breathing again. Let the thoughts and stresses of the day go, and focus on your breath, paying particular attention to how your breath feels as you breathe in and out.

Finally, being more mindful is about improving your concentration, your mental health and your wellbeing. It’s also about physically improving your health and increasing your life expectancy. More than anything it’s about becoming present and experiencing the moment of time that you are actually in, LIVING your life and enjoying it!

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”
― Mae West

Things I love Thursday

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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.

Buckets, jars and other inspirational vessels to love

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Day 34

3rd February 2014,

Over the past month I have noticed many of my friends and family setting up different strategies to achieve their goals, or inspire themselves. There are many ways to inspire and motivate yourself to achieve your dreams, or to realise that you are perhaps already living your dream, you just didn’t know it. Of all of the ideas, I really love the ‘JAR’ idea.  Here are some ideas that my beautiful friends have used that involve a jar and a list of sorts.

It starts with a jar!

The first thing you want to do is find a jar. Now if you are like me – you probably have some beautiful empty jars in your cupboard. But if not, there are all sorts of empty jars to buy at the supermarkets, markets, second hand stores or $2 shops. You want to make sure that it’s relatively big though, so you can fit lots of bits of paper or little cards inside!

When you bring it home, it’s time to decorate it. Yes…there is a craft project, sorry I wasn’t up front about it! You are going to be looking at this jar all year, so make it beautiful and make it reflect your own personality! You can cover it, past jewels on it, use stickers, or print off a picture and place it inside the jar. If you are really adverse to craft project, then by all means, keep your jar plain and un-bedazzled! Next step is naming your precious jar: Happiness Jar, Things I love Jar, Kicking Goals Jar, or whatever the purpose of this jar will be.

Now it’s time to set up the …

1. Gratitude Jar

Every morning before breakfast, and every evening, you are going to write down one thing you are grateful for, and pop it into your jar. So make sure you have a stack of coloured paper, or love heart shapes, or something inviting to write on. Equally important is to have something special to write with. Remember that this is a new habit you are forming. So commit to writing morning and night for the next 30 days. That’s all. Just 30 days. When you get to the end of 30 days empty out your jar and read the 60 things that you are grateful for. Make sure that before you do you create some space for yourself, find a spot that you like to sit, make a drink for yourself, wrap yourself in your favourite blanket, or sit under the stars…celebrate how rich and full your life is. Savour how beautiful and incredible your life is – every single day.

Then pop your pieces of paper back in your jar and recommit to writing down one thing you are grateful for every morning and every evening for the next 30 days. Don’t open your jar in 30 days though. Try to recommit to your task every 30 days until you are up to New Years Eve. Then on New Years Eve, find a magical space in your part of the world, empty your Gratitude Jar, and celebrate your abundant and full life! You will be amazed at how rich and exciting your life has become!

2. Things I Love Jar

This one is similar to the gratitude jar, although it is coming from a slightly different place. Every Friday night or Sunday morning look back on the week and write down all of the things you have loved. It could be playing with your new kitten, learning how to make cheese sauce, going to see your favourite band, holding hands with your love, laughing at your friends hysterical story until you cried, baking cup cakes, eating cupcakes, kissing in the rain, wearing soft multicoloured socks, swinging in the park, lazy barbecue lunches with your friends…the list goes on.

Or, you can write a list at the end of the day, every day, for the whole year.

The idea is that you open your jar on New Years Eve in the same way as the Gratitude Jar, but you are celebrating a year that you loved!

3. Happiness Jar

Another version of the Gratitude Jar and the Things I Love Jars, the Happiness Jar is a little simple. Most people feel really comfortable having this one on their desks at work. It’s pretty straight forward. Whenever something makes you feel happy, write it down and pop it in your jar! You can be a bit more disciplined if you like, and at the end of every day write down one thing that made you feel happy.

Again, if this is a new habit for you, then just commit to writing down your happy moments for 30 days. Read the contents of your jar at the end of the first 30 days to remind yourself why you are doing this. We are very well trained to look for the worst in our lives. This is partly because we are wired to protect ourselves from danger, and also because drama and disaster sells (think 6 o’clock news). Writing down the things that make you feel happy is about reconnecting with the goodness in the world. It’s about finding the joy and beauty that is already happening in your life, you just haven’t noticed it because you haven’t been looking for it. Once you have read the contents of your Happiness Jar after 30 days, pop everything back in your jar and commit for another 30 days. But again, don’t open your jar of happiness. Wait until New Years Eve. Then truly celebrate how happy and extraordinary your life has become.

4. The Bucket List Jar

This one is a little different. It’s focused more on achieving goals. First you are going to write what is commonly referred to as a Bucket List – as in kicking the bucket. Essentially these are all of the things that you want to achieve before you ‘kick the bucket’. This may seem relatively simple, however I would advise you to give yourself a bit of time.

Find yourself a large piece of paper and some textas.

Start listing all of the things that you want to accomplish, experience, have, or give back. Write everything down and number them as you go. Nothing is too small or too big! For example, you might write down ‘Have coffee with Zoe on Friday.’ or ‘Run in a New York marathon.’ Write down everything in your head. Don’t stop yourself.

Try and cover areas of your life from the following: health, travel, relationships, money/finance, learning, fitness, wellbeing, family.

When you have run out of steam, go for a walk or take a break. Leave your list somewhere you can see it and over the next 3 – 5 days add to it. You should find that as your list gets longer you become braver at writing down what you really want.

You want to write at least 100 things down on your list.

Then this is where it is a little different from the previous ‘jar’ ideas. Put up your list on your wall, fridge, wardrobe or bathroom mirror. Next to your list place a pile of post it notes, or cards with a pen or texta.

Over the next 30 days your aim is to do one thing every week on your list. Some items on your list may take a little longer, and you may be able to achieve a few things quite quickly. That’s ok. But aim to do at least one thing EVERY week.

When you achieve your  goal for the week, re-write that goal on your post it note and pop it into your jar. By the end of the month you should have at least 4 goals that you have achieved. Woot Woot!! How awesome does that feel? Now increase that aim to achieving TWO goals off your Bucket List every week. By the end of the second month you will have achieved 12 goals. If achieving two goals is enough to manage in your busy life, then stick with that, but if you think you can achieve a bit more, then increase your aim to achieving THREE goals a week. The idea is still to achieve at least ONE goal – this is your minimum commitment to yourself, with the other one or two goals being a bonus. At the end of the year, on New Years Eve, celebrate the way you have planned, and open up your jar to read all of your achievements for the year. You will be amazed at how much you can accomplish when you are on a mission, one task at a time.**

Most of all have fun with it! You may want to have a few types of jars going. Or one at work and one at home. Just remember to start off one step at a time, and focus on getting through the first 30 days!

When you get to the end of your first 30 days I’d love hear how it went! And I’d definitely love to know how you go on New Years Eve!

“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”

Ayn Rand

 **Just remember, in terms of all of the goals that you have written down, there are many ways to ‘have a family’ or ‘become a movie star’ – you may just need to think slightly outside of the box to achieve them.

A daring adventure

gothic charm school

Day 29

29th January 2014

‘Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.’ Helen Keller.

Sometimes I feel broken. I ache to come home, crawl into bed and stay there for a few years. Just to get up in the morning seems like an insurmountable effort. As if I’m unexpectedly being asked to climb Mount Everest. It’s all too much. Kill me now.

When I’m in the ‘black slump of doom’, it’s hard to imagine a better life, let alone a fantastic, extraordinary life. I’m surrounded by the darkness and I am quick to give into the whispers of destruction and negativity.

Until a slither of light sneaks through.

Because really the doom and gloom stuff gets seriously boring, pretty quickly. You know the feeling you get on a hot summers night when you’re caught up in the bed sheets, and you just can’t get comfortable? That’s the doom and gloom wearing thin. It’s not long before I realise that I’m feeling way too sorry for myself, and that lying in bed under the doona, with my feet caught up in the sheets, really isn’t going to change anything. It won’t fix me. If anything it will probably just make it worse.

I’m not suggesting that there isn’t a time and a place to crash out and feel a bit blah, but staying in that bed for too long is just a waste of your precious time. You are way more worthy than that. And as they say – there is nothing to gain by playing small.

So let’s say you are feeling a little bit broken. How do you get yourself out of the bed of doom? How do you stop playing small and find your inner spirit again?

Here’s a few ideas:

1. Get up

Honestly, nothing can change with you lying on your back, alone, under the doona. Nothing. You will just get more of the same. Doona, darkness, gloom, tissues, fear, doona, darkness, gloom…well you get the picture. Get up and wash your face, or have a shower, brush your teeth and make a drink. Whatever you do, DON’T turn on the television! It’s just full of more doom and gloom, and you don’t need to add it to your little mound of darkness!

2. Sit in the sun

People who know me will be laughing in shock. I’m not really a sun girl and usually tend to avoid it like the plague. But even I know what’s good for me. A little bit of sunshine or a bit of fresh air is good for your soul as well as your vitamin D levels. If it’s good weather in your corner of the world, find a spot to sit in the sun and breathe. Perhaps you have a beautiful garden where you can take off your shoes and sink your feet into the soft wet grass? Or a park you can walk to, that is close by? Maybe you have a balcony or a small courtyard that gives you a view of the street? Close your eyes and listen to the world around you. This is the world that you are very much a part of.

If it’s the middle of winter, perhaps you have a spot you can sit near a window with a view? Try to sit somewhere, where you can see the sky, and remember that there is a whole universe outside of your home. Wrap yourself in a warm blanket or shawl and reconnect with the world.

3. Breathe

Grab a lovely chair or a stool and sit for 15 minutes in the fresh air or near a window, just breathing. Breath in. Then breathe out. Re-connect with your body. Remember our friend Thich Nhat Hanh? Breathe in – now I am breathing in. Breathe out – now I am breathing out. Hey! You’re breathing! Not bad!

4. Tell yourself you are worthy

You may be a little bit broken at the moment, but this time will pass. You may be tired, sad, cross, whatever is happening right now, this time will pass. Because even though you are broken  -you are still good. Even though you are broken – you are still worthy of a daring adventure. You are still worthy of an extraordinary life. You are a majestic, beautiful, broken human being, and you are worthy and still good.

5. Remind yourself about the good stuff in your life and write it down!

Spend a good 15-30 minutes writing down what is good in your life. What are you grateful for? If this is an unexpected challenge, then start small. Perhaps you love the tea cup you drink out of every morning? Or maybe you are grateful for your mum who is always calling you to see how you are? Perhaps snuggling with your cat is the best thing in your life, or sinking into your partner’s hugs…

6. Make a promise to yourself

Once you’ve reminded yourself to be grateful for the good stuff in your life, it’s time to make a promise to yourself. Today you are going to make one promise and stick to it. You could promise yourself that you will accept who you are/ find something good and beautiful about yourself every day/seek the good in people around you/learn to breathe/get out of bed everyday/stand up for yourself/ teach people around you how to love you/write down one thing you love about yourself every day for 100 days… Whatever your promise, dare yourself to take on the adventure!

7. Find a totem

I love this idea. Gala Darling introduced it when she developed The Radical Self Love Project. Basically you want to find a totem that will remind you every moment of every day about your promise to yourself, and what you are trying to achieve for yourself. It can be anything! A necklace, a ring, a photo, a drawing… I have 3 different types of totems depending on what I am doing. If I am focussed on caring and compassion, I wear one of my heart necklaces. Some days it’s about focussing on my promise to follow my dream, so I pull out my butterflies. I have butterflies in my diary, on my notice board at work and around my computers. Most of the time though I wear my angel wings. My wings remind me why I am here on this earth and my promise to myself to live a life that is worthy, a life of integrity, that makes a difference to everyone I meet.  You can make your totem anything that is meaningful to you. Elephants, scarves, skulls, or stars. It can be anything! But make sure your totem is something that you can wear, or put in your wallet, or see all the time, reminding you to behave like the free spirit your were born to be and stay focussed on living your daring adventure!

So I’ll leave you with this today:

A dark little story of self love

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I’m a bit of a gothic girl at heart. When I was a little younger I used to raid my grandmother’s wardrobe. Thank the goddess that she was a hoarder. She had three bedrooms filled with wardrobes that in turn were filled with pristine dresses, coats and bags from the 1930’s and 40’s. It was a teenage gothic girls mothball heaven.

After watching me play dress ups in her bedroom for months, my grandmother finally relented and allowed me to choose a few of her treasures to keep. It was a defining moment in our relationship. I pretty much worshipped the ground she walked on from then until the day she left this incarnation.

I chose two soft fitted floral dresses, a jet black tailored coat and some accessories, that included gloves and a 1940’s handbag. When I matched them with jet black stockings and black lace up boots my mother thought I was crazy.

It was the middle of an Australian summer and here I was wrapped in tailored black, with a whisper of delicate deep green and blue floral fabric peeking through. My eyes are a deep blue, which back then I surrounded with plenty of black makeup and my hair of course was long, straight and a deep red.

I thought I looked elegant, mysterious and beautiful. My mother was confused. While my sister ran around in the 40+ degree heat in shorts and a t-shirt, I glided through the days like I had just stepped out of a Victorian Winter.

I loved myself back then. I loved how I looked, but most of all I was happy being me. This was who I was and it made me feel strong and confident about myself. It made me feel really good in my own skin. And even though there were very few people who dressed or behaved like I did, I felt incredibly happy to be me.

Over the years of course, I’ve had plenty of moments where this hasn’t stayed true. I have doubted myself, and been my own worst nightmare. There have been moments of despair, and moments where I have been so overwhelmed by my perception of the world that the only way to survive seemed to be to sink into a quiet numbness. But as Ram Dass says, “You can’t build joy on a feeling of self loathing.” You can’t create a life either. And you most definitely can’t live.

You either sink into a sickening depression, or you spend every minute of your life trying to please everyone to prove that you are good enough.

When you accept yourself and feel strong in your own skin; when you can love yourself and believe in your own beauty (not just physical beauty, but your inner beauty) then you not only change your own life, you breathe life into those around you.

Accept yourself. Believe in your heart that you are extraordinary, and as William James says “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”

Thanking Kevin

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DAY 23

Thursday 23rd January, 2014

Kevin has been my doctor for over ten years now. When I first met him I had the flu. The real one, not a virus masquerading up the germ hierarchy ladder. This was the bonafide flu, complete with fainting, sweating and basically preparing to die.

Anyway, I stumbled into the clinic where he worked, hoping that they still bulk billed the medical fees and collapsed in his chair trying to stay conscious. Awesome. So far so good. Except when my vision cleared there was this extremely handsome, young (really, he could have been 17 he looked that young) Asian boy who talked a thousand miles an hour. When did high school kids start sitting their medical exams?

One of the things I liked right away was that Doctor Kevin explained everything that was going on in minute detail to me, albeit, very very quickly. I did have to ask him to repeat what he said a few times, not because he wasn’t fluent in English, but because an army of germs had camped out in my brain, and I could barely comprehend what was going on, let alone keep up with what he was saying.

Somehow Kevin understood my fevered rambling answers and gently rescued me with a shot of antibiotics and a script for half the store room contents of my local chemist. I lived and that was the first time Kevin saved my life.

Over the years Kevin became our family doctor, sorting, and treating through a myriad of infections, sore backs, broken bones, sick glands, un-discovered diseases, rashes, and the inevitable girl and boy stuff. As he has started to look a little older and his speech has slowed down, his wisdom and skill with doctoring has grown significantly. The result is that we trust Kevin implicitly and have faith that he will work hard and fight for our health and wellbeing.

Today I had to go in to see him about some annual tests. We had a bit of a giggle about all the free tests I was now eligible for given my age, and elevated risk factor status. Apparently as you get older there’s a higher chance of you dying…um…really?

Anyhoo, we talked about my sons as he printed off the freebie referrals, and booked in my next blood tests, (ah, don’t we all love a good blood test session with a vampire) and then he started to wrap the consultation up.

But I was on another mission.

“Actually Kevin, there’s one more thing.”

“”Oh, really I’m sorry…” He turned back to look at the computer screen to check that he hadn’t missed anything.

“No, you haven’t forgotten anything. I just wanted to say thank you.”

“Oh.” Kevin looked at me in shock. I realised then that perhaps Kevin doesn’t get thanked very often.

“Thank you so much for everything you have done for me and for my family. I know this is your job, but you are an amazing doctor and you have literally saved our lives on numerous occasions, and I just really wanted to say thank you.”

Doctor Kevin looked down at the floor and then looked up at me with an odd look on his face.

“It’s okay. It’s a pleasure.” Then he smiled.

I walked out feeling as if I had been thanked.

I have been thanking people a lot this week. I noticed that there are quite a few beautiful people in my life who support and care for me. So as part of the DBM mission, I added “thanking where possible” to my daily “to do” list. It’s not rocket science to genuinely thank the people in our lives who go out of their way to care for us. It is simple.

And you may be surprised at the bubbles of joy that endlessly pop inside you when you thank someone.

“Try a little harder to be a little better.”
― Gordon B. Hinckley

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