The Disease of Disconnection

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We are in crisis!

A crisis of disconnection.

True connection, real, authentic and deep connection is becoming harder to come by and frankly, it appears we are losing skills that are really too valuable to let go off.

In our fast paced world, where time is money and looking good is more important than connection, we have create a culture where authentic connection is no longer valued in the same way it once was. This certainly appears to have bought great change to our society, and in my opinion, not for the better.

Do you remember a time when you shopped at a store and knew the majority of the staff who you would happily chat with? A time where you would give your postman a present at Christmas  because he had been bringing your family the mail for the last ten years? A time when a friendship was about hanging out and conversation, instead of snapchats, insta pic’s and texting?

I was reading a great article this morning by Dan Schawbel , he was interviewing one of my all time favourite women,  Brene Brown on Why Human Connection will bring us closer and the article covered many great distinctions. One of the most powerful ones is around the fact that fear is keeping us separated.

Brene Brown said “We’ve sorted ourselves into factions based on our politics and ideology. We’ve turned away from one another and toward blame and rage. We’re lonely and untethered. And scared. Any answer to the question “How did we get here?” is certain to be complex. But If I had to identify one core variable that magnifies our compulsion to sort ourselves into factions while at the same time cutting ourselves off from real connection with other people, my answer would be fear. Fear of vulnerability. Fear of getting hurt. Fear of the pain of disconnection. Fear of criticism and failure. Fear of conflict. Fear of not measuring up. When we ignore fear and deny vulnerability, fear grows and metastasizes. We move away from a belief in common humanity and unifying change and move into blame and shame. We will do anything that gives us a sense of more certainty and we will give our power to anyone who can promise easy answers and give us an enemy to blame.”

I found this paragraph very interesting as it reminded me of the three universal fears that every human being is contending with each day.  They are:

  • The fear of not being enough
  • The fear of not belonging
  • The fear of not being loved

Whether or not you identify these fears within yourself consciously, it has been proven that they are in operation within all of us.  The variable though, is how we manage them. For some people, they are very small and have a low impact on their lives, for others, these fears dominate each waking moment.

It seems so topsy turvey that in pursuit of minimising these fears we have actually magnified them.  We portray ourselves as having tons of friends who we are constantly doing cool stuff with on social media yet we are more lonely than ever.

We dress in certain clothes and go to certain places to feel like we belong, like we are part of a tribe but really all we are trying to do is fit in, blend in and be enough. Its not true belonging at all.

Brown goes on to say “True belonging is not passive. It’s not the belonging that comes with just joining a group. It’s not fitting in or pretending or selling out because it’s safer. It’s a practice that requires us to be vulnerable, get uncomfortable, and learn how to be present with people without sacrificing who we are. If we are going to change what is happening in a meaningful way we’re going to need to intentionally be with people who are different from us. We’re going to have to sign up and join, and take a seat at the table. We’re going to have to learn how to listen, have hard conversations, look for joy, share pain, and be more curious than defensive, all while seeking moments of togetherness”

What stands out in what Brown says, is that it’s all about vulnerability, truly letting ourselves be seen, even if that brings up fear in us.  Until we are prepared to be uncomfortable, to take a chance, then we will continue to repeat the patterns that we have formed.

As much as technology is a powerful tool and there is certainly much to be grateful for, I am sadden that the cost of it has been a diminishment of authentic and deep connection.

If you would like to read the full article, check out Forbes Magazine

But you signed the contract…

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I have just watched the film Stronger on a flight between Perth and Sydney. It was a beautiful and inspiring film about tragedy and triumph.

Stronger is the story of Jeff Bauman, a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013.  Jeff was at the finish line waiting for his ex-girlfriend who was competing to cross the line.  He was desperately trying to win her back and had turned up to demonstrate his love for her. He was right next to the first bomb that was detonated and he suffered devastating damage to his legs. He lost both of his legs and the film is the story of his journey back to himself.

Sometimes life seems to deal totally unfair blows to us – and this certainly looks like one of those situations. The film left me thinking about the “Spiritual Contracts” we sign before we come to (or return to) the Earth Plane.

Specifically, it got me thinking about Jeff’s Spiritual Contract and what a life being an amputee would mean for him. I was curious about what he had learnt and how he would consider the whole event four years later.

So what is a “Spiritual Contract”?

A Spiritual Contract is an agreement that we make on the Spiritual Plane to ensure that we are set up to learn all the soul lessons that we want to here in this life on the Earth Plane. It may be a lesson of resilience, determination, courage, or forgiveness – or it could be anything that will evolve our soul and continue us on our spiritual path.

I first learnt about Spiritual Contracts from two of my favourite teachers – Dr Wayne Dyer and Carolyn Myss. I consider both to be leaders in the field of spirituality. They were lecturing together and both referenced how we enter into contracts or agreements with other’s souls, so that we are able to expand, grow and get the education that we need. The catch is that often this contract shows up in the form of pain of some sort.

This whole concept resonated so deeply with me as I love the thought that any challenge, tragedy or period of suffering we go through has an opportunity of great learning for us. It creates the possibility of us being able to step into a new version of ourselves; a version we never would have discovered if we had not been pushed to the outer limits of ourselves.

To think that when we were planning the purpose of this life now we chose events and people to come in to our lives so we have a chance to expand and grow. Not only did we choose them, but they chose us! We made a contract together and we both signed it, agreeing to support each other’s soul in achieving the teachings of this lifetime (again, only if we are willing to rise to the challenge).

I can appreciate that this is may be a bit left-of-centre for some of you, but just think about it for a minute: think of an event in your life where something bad, sad or mad happened and then ask yourself: “What did I learn from this?”.

From great loss comes great appreciation;

From great sadness comes great connection; and

From great fear comes great courage.

I firmly believe that if you have found some level of growth, expansion, compassion, gratitude etc and then go on to live resourcefully, then the contract has been successfully filled and completed. Sometimes this may take days and sometimes this may take decades.

For Jeff Bauman, his journey was a tough one – a very tough one – yet he rose to become an even better version of himself. What initially seemed to be the most devastating event that could happen to someone ended up providing him with an opportunity of immense growth.

My other conclusion with these Spiritual Contracts is that we choose them on the Spiritual Plane because if we had any idea of the enormity of experiencing it down here, then maybe we would choose differently.

No one likes pain yet there is no better classroom when we are able to move through it.

It’s time to get Grounded

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In 2010 my Mum, who I was very close to, was diagnosed with lung cancer. By the time the doctors had found the disease, it had already metastasised to her liver and bones so as you can imagine, the prognosis was bleak.

I was living in Cairns at the time and immediately came home to be with my family. It was meant to be a 10 day visit but I ended up staying and moving in with my parents to support them through this.  It was a very emotional time for each member of my family and it felt like we were all just stumbled our way through each day.

During this time, there was one part of my day that I continually  craved and that was taking the dogs down to the park.  My Mum’s dog Daisy, was 16 years old and totally geri (geriatric) and at the time my sister’s dog was living with my parents as they were renovating the house, his name was Roger.

Every afternoon, the three of us would hop in the car and head down to the beautiful big reserve and oval near my parents place and we would walk.  The dogs loved it because they were able to run around and indulge in all those delicious dog smells.  I loved it because, I would take my shoes off and walk bare foot on the grass.  It didn’t matter if it was warm or cool, I just had such a strong compulsion to feel the earth under my feet. The soft, cool grass was so therapeutic and every day I did this, I found a little bit of calm and peace in the chaos of my emotions.

There was one day in particular, my parents were down south and I was meant to be going out to a party that afternoon.  I had been feeling so sad and was really struggling to get though the day.  I made the decision to not go to the party so rang my friend and told her.  She was concerned about me being on my own and wanted to know how I was going to spend my afternoon.  I told her, I was going to walk on the grass barefooted with the dogs.  This did not seem to allay her fears very much but I knew in my heart, I just needed to ground myself to the Earth.

I went to the park with the dogs, took my shoes off and started to walk.  I knew with totally certainty that this was exactly what my spirit need that day.  At this point, I didn’t know any of the science of grounding or Earthing but it all makes so much sense to me now.  I stayed at the park, wandering in a massive loop around the edge of grass for over two hours.  I came home feeling lighter and brighter than I had all day.

According to Bare Foot Healing (www.barefoothealing.com.au),  years of extensive research has shown that connecting to the Earth’s natural energy, by walking barefoot on grass, sand, dirt or rock can diminish chronic pain, fatigue and other ailments that plague so many people today.  Quite simply, walking on the earth in bare feet is great for your health and vitality.

When your bare feet or skin comes in contact with the earth, free electrons are taken up into the body.  These electrons could be referred to as nature’s biggest antioxidants and help neutralise damaging excess free radicals that can lead to inflammation and disease in the body.

The Earth is a conductor of free electrons and so are all living things on the planet, including us.  The body is composed of mostly of water and minerals which in combination are excellent conductors of electrons from the Earth providing there is direct skin contact or some other conductive channel for them to flow through.

As the Bare Foot Healing website says “The Earth’s energy upgrades one’s physiology by allowing the body to cope and repair thereby promoting wellbeing, vitality and better sleep.  It also harmonizes and stabilizes the body’s basic biological rhythms, knocks down (and even knocks out) chronic inflammation and reduces and eliminates associated pain, making it the most natural and powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-aging remedy around!  No matter what your age, gender, race or health status you will benefit from a daily dose of Earthing”

So often we intuitively know what out body needs.  It may show up as thirst, the desire for more sleep, a craving for plant based foods or a longing to get outside and walk on the earth in bare feet.  My point is, trust your intuition and if you can acknowledge that inner whisper and guidance by giving your body what it wants then you are truly loving yourself in the most divine way.

As I read more about Earthing or Grounding after my Mum passed, I realised why my desire to get out there every day had been so strong. I found comfort in that.

If you are having a bad day or your health, energy or Spirit is depleted, give it a shot.  Find yourself a patch of beautiful, green grass and walk on it for at least 30 minutes.

Who knows, maybe you will feel that little bit better (or a LOT better:)

 

 

The Five Love Languages

 

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Would it be useful for you to know how to love your partner in exactly the way they want to be loved? Would you like to have your partner love you in a way that totally fills your tank up?

I imagine your answer is a resounding yes! I mean, we all want to be loved, especially in the way that is most meaningful to us.

Humans are such fascinating creatures. At times we all seem so very different and then at other times, we seem so similar. Often at the beginning of relationships, all we see are the similarities, then – as time goes on – we start to notice the differences. Sometimes the differences become so vast that the relationship struggles to stay together.

Doing the work that I do, there is one thing I know for sure – and that is that humans have patterns and those patterns become predictable once we have an understanding of them.

For example, a pattern of behaviour that you may already have awareness of is that of the extrovert and the introvert. If you know that your friend is an extrovert, then you can predict with a high level of accuracy that when you take that person to a party they will comfortably find someone to chat with and before long they will have made new friends. Oppositely, if you take your introvert friend to the party, you know that they will either want to stay near you for a while or maybe just chat to one or two people throughout the party. They won’t be drawing attention to themselves and will be less eager to tear up the dance floor.

When it comes to love (how we show it and how we like to receive it) there are also patterns. These patterns were discovered and made famous by a man called Dr Gary Chapman.

Dr Chapman has a background in the church and throughout his years as a minister and counsellor he worked with thousands of people – many of them married. Over the years he identified five distinct patterns in how people love each other. He also noted that often, when a marriage or relationship was in crisis, it was because the couple were showing their love to each other in different ways. Because of that, the partner would misunderstand an act of love and the moment would pass.

The Five Love Languages is one of the most simple, yet effective frameworks that I utilise in helping people create happier relationships. When we can communicate our love in a way that is desired by our partner we create stronger bonds and are more equipped to weather the storms of life together.

When we are miscommunicating our love (or our love is not being understood) it is like a person speaking Japanese to a Chinese-speaking person and then wondering why they are not being understood. They are two very different languages!

So what are The Five Love Languages?

  1. Words of Affirmation: This is all about expressing love and affection through words, praise, compliments, acknowledgement and appreciation. Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If your love language is words of affirmation then genuine compliments and positive words will mean the world to you. Being told “I love you”; “You are a great dad/mum”; or “I am blessed to be with you” will make your heart sing and you will feel truly loved.
  2. Quality Time: If Quality Time is your primary love language, nothing says, “I love you” like full, undivided attention. Being present for this type of person is critical – with the TV off, knives and forks down and the phone away. This will make your significant other feel truly special and loved. It’s all about being in the same place and focusing on each other.
  3. Receiving Gifts: This love language isn’t all about materialism. The receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift – no money even needs to be spent. It could be a flower brought in from the garden, a poem, or bringing home your partner’s favourite chocolate bar. If you speak this love language, a beautiful gift or heartfelt gesture shows that you are seen, you are cared for, and you are valued.
  4. Acts of Service: Can doing the dishes or washing the car really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service Person” is a powerful demonstration of love. Feeling supported through assistance and acts of service shows a level of thoughtfulness that fills up this person’s love tank.
  5. Physical Touch:  A person whose primary language is physical touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. They love hugs, holding hands, gentle touches on the arm or shoulder when walking past each other, as well as all of the more private moments of intimacy. Physical touch shows this type of person that they are loved and cared for. Physical presence and accessibility are extremely important.

Here is an example from the book that highlights the misunderstanding that can happen when we speak different love languages:

A husband said:

“I mow the grass every Saturday after I wash the car. I vacuum every Thursday night. I do the dishes at least four nights a week. I help with the laundry. I do all of this and she says that she “does not feel loved” – I don’t know what else to do”.

His wife’s response was:

“He is right. He is a hard-working man”. Then she began to cry and said, “But we don’t ever talk. We haven’t talked in thirty years”. She is dying for ‘Quality Time’, while he is speaking ‘Acts of Service’.

This example is such a great illustration of two people who are communicating through different love languages and it having a serious impact of how loved they feel. The husband has such good intentions and really believes that he is demonstrating his love by easing the household workload – yet it totally misses the mark for her.

Self-awareness and knowledge are power! If you feel that you could have a more connected and more loving relationship, then I highly recommend reading The Five Love Languages. Dr Chapman even has an online quiz you can do to work out what your own primary and secondary love languages are – and this could be the first step towards a more loving and empowered relationship.

 

The Paradoxical Commandments

 

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Being a lover of the arts, music, theatre, literature and poetry, I am always on the lookout for pieces that move me – that stir up my soul. In my experience, when artists express themselves through these different mediums (and when they do it well) they become powerful storytellers and inspiring leaders. In fact, there are songs, poems, books and stage shows that have profoundly impacted the world and have changed the way we think.

Whether is an emotive code of life such as The Desiderata or the lyrics to the Robbie Williams song “Angels”, we get to experience an emotion that moves us into deeper feelings. It gets us thinking and feeling and seeing the world through different eyes.

This is a gift. This is empathy.

I discovered the poem “The Paradoxical Commandments” several years ago and after a conversation I had this week with a friend, I went looking for it. I find it thought-provoking, moving, courageous and – most importantly – centred around love and being the very best version of ourselves that we can be.

Even in the face of it all going wrong.

Kent M. Keith wrote this poem in 1968. At the time, he was a 19 year old who was studying at Harvard. He clearly had a great understanding of what being a good human being meant.

I am hypothesising as I really don’t know much about Mr Keith, yet his words lead me to wonder if he endured some challenges to have this level of commitment to greatness at just 19 years old. It makes me curious to know whether he had a challenging relationship with his family, or maybe he came from a very loving family who taught him these values? Perhaps he was the kid who got bullied in the schoolyard and no matter how hard he tried to blend in and not be seen, he was still tormented every day.

The key message in this beautiful poem is to persevere. Continue to do good for humanity, continue to act with integrity, continue to be the best version of you EVEN when you are getting nothing back and even losing it all. And that’s the paradox of the commandments.

Why should we keep giving when we get nothing back? Why should we keep building our empire if we are going to lose it all? Why do good for others when they accuse you of having other motives?

Well, from an energetic point of view, it is about “vibrating high”: vibrating at a frequency that creates abundance, health, and even more happiness. Mr Keith is clearly all about vibrating high.

From a spiritual point of view, if we are here to live a life of cleaning up old karma or creating new karma credits for the future, then it makes sense to live this way.

From a humanitarian point of view, if we all behaved according to the lines in this poem, there would be no need for a poem like this.

Please read it because I would love to know your thoughts – and just remember: there is always a choice.

The Paradoxical Commandments

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favour underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

 

 

The Belittling of your Dreams

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I receive personal emails from the Universe a couple of times a week. I know, cool huh!

They are usually somewhere between two lines to a paragraph and they share some universal wisdom about life, love, health or wealth. They always seem to be spot on for what I need to hear at that moment or to be reminded of. I love them and I often ponder them for several minutes after reading the email.

To be honest, I actually receive the emails from Mike Dooley at www.tut.com – The Universe Talks. Mike has put together an awesome website and one of the features is the ability to sign up and get these little pearls of wisdom throughout the week.

Having a belief that everything is always divinely guided, I find these notes from the Universe fun and thought-provoking.

The other day, I was sitting at my desk noticing all the big plans that I have for my life and my business swirling around in my head. I had recently gotten home from holidays so was just starting to get clear again on moving forward and reaffirming the things that I want to create in my life. There were all sorts of things flying around: me speaking in front of 1000 people, working with more coaching clients, finding true love, being abundantly healthy and fit in time for summer and many others. At that point my computer chimes to signify the arrival of an email and there was my note from the Universe.

“Thinking big and acting small is the same as thinking small”.

Boom!

That one had to have some divine intervention going on!

I sat there and stared and this single line for about 5 minutes. It honestly felt like this message had been perfectly scripted for me and me only. It was the EXACT message that I needed to be reminded of in that moment.

I forgot to mention that while I was noticing all these big plans in my head, the little doubtful voice was whispering in my ear about whether or not I could actually achieve what I wanted to. There was some fear around my business goals and in one moment I was thinking big and in the next moment, was quickly diminishing the actions I could take so that I would feel safer. I was making the things I wanted smaller without even realising it.

“Thinking big and acting small is the same as thinking small”.

So many of us have wild and exciting dreams and big visions for our life, yet often that is all that they ever are, dreams and visions. It is easy to convince ourselves of why we do or don’t get what we want but the reality of it is that we don’t take big action to support our big thinking.

The distinction really is this, so often, big action isn’t what is required in that moment.  All that is required in that moment is SOME action, ANY action, A SINGLE action.  Just do something!! ACT!!!

The power of action, with repetition, will create momentum and once there is momentum the action becomes so much easier. It gathers speed and energy and then the actions start to take care of themselves because we are aligned with the vision. That is when big action is born.

Big action is doing the same task that is required over and over again.  If you wanted to learn Chinese, big action is committing to an hour a day, six days a week to learning the language.  Action is doing that hour today. Action is doing that hour tomorrow. Action is doing that hour the day after.

Big action is all those hours combined. Big action is commitment.

“Thinking big and acting small, is the same as thinking small”.

We belittle our dreams and our inspiration by simply not consistently acting in a way that will ensure they can come to fruition. Fear is so often not our friend: it is the main reason those splendid visions of our life remain a vision instead of a reality. Impatience is also not our friend. In today’s world, if it doesn’t happen fast and we don’t get immediate results we so often stop and give up.

This is not a fault of our big-thinking, this is a fault of our big action or lack thereof.

No matter how much thinking we do, no matter how big that thinking is, if the actions we take aren’t consistent and focused we really are thinking small.

Thank you Universe, a perfectly timed reminder as always.

 

 

France, you Foxy Lady, I have fallen in love with you (again)

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I have just returned from an amazing couple of weeks in the south west of France. We stayed in The Perigord Noir, a region within the Dordogne. It is an incredibly beautiful part of the country and still considered to be rural France even though tourism is alive and well. It is green, full of picturesque views, farmland, vineyards and the most lovely people. To top all of that off, the valley where we stayed is known as the Cradle of Civilisation: humans have been living on and off there for the last million years (with mammoths). Modern man, known as Cro Magnum man, showed up there 45,000 years ago and got through the last European ice age. How cool is that!

There are just so many things to love about France!!

Each trip to France I come away more in love with the country and the people. There is something so unique about the French spirit. These people have a real sense of certainty about who they are and their love of tradition is admirable. I think this is what has made their culture so great. Even the smallest village is sophisticated in its presentation and the care and love is so evident. They just tend to do things properly in France!

Being a passionate foodie, my number one love of France is their great appreciation of everything food. How it’s produced, how it’s cooked, how it’s presented and most importantly – how it is eaten.

A French study conducted in 2010 showed that the average French person spends 2 hours and 22 minutes per day eating. Three meals a day is still a philosophy that is closely adhered to and snacking isn’t really a part of their food culture. Food is about connection, not only to the produce itself but to each other. Families and colleagues will sit together and eat a meal and there is much less “ducking out to get a sandwich” or popping into the “drive thru” to eat in your car than in other western countries. Food is an opportunity to be together, talk, share ideas and most importantly stop: to stop moving and be present. I wonder if that is a part of the reason that the French don’t have the same obesity issues as other countries?

My second great love of France is their unapologetic nature.

Coming from a country where we are falling over ourselves to blend in, bend the rules and katow to someone else’s rules, I find the unapologetic nature of the French refreshing. If I asked a French person whether they spoke English (because I only have 17 words of French and most of them are food-related) and they did not, they didn’t apologise for that – they just said no. Initially I was a bit taken aback but after I thought about it, I was so appreciative of the example being set for me. We often apologise too much for just being us, but not the French.

In the restaurants, the food for the children is pretty much the same as the adult food. It is what it is and I am guessing that the French kids just eat it. The waitstaff in the restaurant don’t offer 15 other options, they just stand there and wait for the order and then take it to the kitchen. There is no apologising if the child can’t find something they want, they just learn to be adaptable – a great soft skill for any child to pick up.

Lastly – and maybe controversially – the French don’t like full face coverings and they passed a law in 2011 banning a full face-covering niqab along with other garments and headwear. Whether or not I agree or disagree with their decision around that, the French people spoke about wanting to protect the republican values of France as well as promote the gender equality which is weaved into their culture. The French believe in assimilation and if people choose to come there, they expect their values to be upheld. If you don’t like that, don’t come.

This view does seem very hard-line, yet I can also see why French culture has not been diluted, like other European countries such as the UK. They simply do not apologise for being French and stand firmly in their identity.

The third thing I love about the France is the language.  

I don’t know if it’s the musical nature of the language or because it just sounds so damn sexy, but it is truly magical. You could call me every name under the sun in French and I would still smile sweetly and say “Sure, take me to bed”. It just works for me!

French is known as a “Romance Language” which means that it descended primarily from Vulgar Latin, and it evolved out of the Gallo Romance spoken in the North of France.

It is the main (or second) language of 55 countries and is one of the six official languages of the United Nations. French has been far less butchered than the English language mainly due to the French Academy (the Académie Française), whose task is to act as guardian of the French language. The Academy has often resisted changes to the French language, insisting that existing and traditional forms of the language were, by virtue of their existence “correct French” (there is the no apology thing again).

Hearing the French language each day certainly made my heart sing. Even hearing a French person speak English with a French accent felt and sounded so exotic to me. It is truly a beautiful language and I thoroughly enjoyed picking more of it up. I am sure I would have sounded like “Kath and Kim Do France” though!!

So after this trip my love affair with France has continued to blossom. Like every country I visit, there is always something to learn and admire from each place. For me, France just has more than most.

Au Revoir 🙂

 

What’s the go with the Holiday Blues?

 

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I have been home from the most wonderful holiday EVER for just over four days and it’s pretty bleak at my house at the moment. To be honest, it’s been a real emotional rollercoaster and I have been wrestling with embracing my life again.

I have often thought that the amount of Post-Holiday Depression (PHD) one suffers is in direct proportion to the amount of awesomeness that was experienced whilst on holidays. When I look it that way, it really reaffirms that I have had a truly magnificent time away and I am immensely grateful for that.

I was chatting to a very dear friend of mine this morning about how I have been feeling and how come – for someone who is as upbeat as me – the PHD can be so vicious.

I concluded that even though I love my life, it’s wonderful to have a real break from it and from all the stuff that consumes my thoughts and time during the day. Having a four week respite from work, business, social media, social engagements, mundane chores and food shopping has been total soul food. Not to mention the free ticket to eat and drink like calories didn’t exist.

Holidays are so important for the soul. They are a chance to step away from our lives and be someone different. If we have highly stressful lives, it’s the opportunity to not have a worry in the world. If we have a life that involves picking up and dropping kids off all day, we get to stop being the taxi driver and be the one who gets to look out the window and watch the passing view. If we live with discipline around our food and exercise, often we give ourselves some leeway to enjoy all the culinary delights that a holiday can offer.

Holidays – whether they are a four week vacation or a four day getaway – are a time for doing the things that we forget to do most days. I love watching clouds yet on the average day I only glimpse the clouds. I don’t lie on the grass and stare at the heavens for half an hour at a time. I also love exploring the markets, shops and back alleys, yet at home this is something I rarely, if ever, do. While I was away this time, I lost hours wandering from one little shop to the next. I didn’t buy anything I just wandered and explored and pottered. These are all words that I associate with lots of time and no schedule.

Holidays are also about adventure: for example, going into a cafe in a foreign country and ordering something that sounds good but you actually have no idea what it is. The simplicity of getting in the car at the start of a road trip to go down south is also full of adventure.

It’s the feeling of excitement and curiosity all rolled into one. It’s the feeling of difference.

As I was flying back into Perth, I opened one of my favourite apps Any Do (a brilliant app for a list junkie like me) and perused my list “Post Holiday Stuff” to start wrapping my head around what was to come over the next week. Once I got home, I got reacquainted with my diary and all of a sudden the holiday was over and I was back in my kitchen staring into my empty fridge seriously contemplating eating a sad piece of cheese that I had missed in my pre-holiday fridge clean and some pickled onions. Yep, that constitutes dinner.

I have realised over the last few days that my PHD is actually me reacclimatising to sameness. After having a sensory overload of difference, the sameness feels so boring and unexciting. I am sure that not having a schedule for four weeks added to my sense of freedom! Yet, I do honestly know that the sameness is what makes my life so special: Friday night dinners with my family, blog writing at my fave cafe, early morning weekend swims at the beach now the weather is warmer. I LOVE this stuff, I love my fruit and veggie store, I love my green smoothie every morning, I love money going into my bank account on the last day of every month.

Sameness is actually pretty damn cool!!

So as I write this I realise that yet again, life has provided me with contrast so I can appreciate all that I get to experience. Without holidays, I wouldn’t appreciate the beautiful day to day life I have because I would never have a break from it. By having holidays I get to experience a respite from my world and be the crazy adventurer who lives so strongly within me.

Like day needs night and yin needs yang, we all need a change of scenery every now and again – even if there is a bit of PHD thrown in at the end.

 

 

 

The Power of Philanthropy

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How much of your time, energy or resources do you give to others purely to help the world around you be a better place?

Last night I watched an excellent TED talk with Bill and Melinda Gates. It was about their Foundation – The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – and what it is currently achieving and what it hopes to achieve over the coming decades.

It was truly inspiring and has given me so much more hope for our planet.

So let’s start with philanthropy: What exactly is it? It is the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes. Generally, very wealthy people set up philanthropic causes around something they are passionate about. For some it is the arts whilst for others it’s education or health.  It doesn’t really matter what the cause is, and I am sure each of the causes across many different areas are abundantly happy to receive the help.

I have always wanted to be a philanthropist ever since I found out what it meant when I was 16. I am sure that on some level I loved the idea of being super rich, but I loved the idea of giving it away even more. I think that is why I am so inspired and fascinated with what the Gates are doing.

The idea of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was born in the 1990s. They had been on a trip to Africa to see the animals but it was the people that really caught their attention. They found them to be so open and wonderful and were deeply saddened by their challenging lives. They were walking along a beach in Zanzibar at the end of their holiday discussing why it was like it was and what could be done about it.

Bill and Melinda had already decided that their post-Microsoft years would be about charity and giving back, but this trip to Africa prompted their philanthropic journey to start much earlier than planned, and their Foundation was born in 2000.

The philosophy of the Foundation is to tackle just a few big problems very well. They choose extreme poverty and poor health in developing countries, and the failures of America’s education system. They have a global approach which is highly commendable! When we are happy to take the resources from developing countries, I believe we have an obligation to take care of their people as well.

On the Foundation’s website there is a letter from the Gates explaining who they are and what they stand for. In the letter they share some advice that Warren Buffett gave them around philanthropy: “Don’t just go for safe projects,” he said, “take on the really tough problems”.

They have and they are making a massive impact in the world!

The other thing that I love about the Foundation is who they have got to join them. Being as affluent as they are, they swim in circles where there is a lot of money and a lot of influence. And really, these are the people who will be changing the world, not our governments.

Bill and Melinda Gates have currently given 80% of their wealth to the Foundation. By the time they leave the planet they will have given 95% to the Foundation. In 2007, Warren Buffett called his friends Bill and Melinda and asked to donate 80% of his wealth to their Foundation. Between these two alone, we are talking billion and billions, if not trillions of dollars! Trillions of dollars that is being spent with intention, research, testing to ensure they are doing the best thing, and simply changing the world to be a far better places for millions of people.

Now that blows my heart up!

Aside from Warren Buffet, there are now over 150 other super rich people who have committed over 50% of their wealth to the Foundation. The influence that the Gates’ actions have had on leading their peers has been so powerful and the philanthropic spirit has been ignited in a way that the world has not seen before.

I am nowhere near being in a philanthropic position but the Gates inspire me to continue to give where I can. Whether that is a small donation to a charity, giving away things that I could sell to someone who needs them more than me, or simply coaching people who want to make a change and are not yet in a position to pay for the help. It really doesn’t matter if you are the Gates or me – it is about the spirit of giving and taking care of others who need the help.

If you get a chance to check out the TED talk, do so! It is full of hope and is a great opportunity to see what two people who are committed to a more equal planet can achieve.

The world has gone mad!

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I have been noticing more and more that political correctness is becoming a problem in our world. It has gone so far that it has actually gotten a bit stupid – well totally bloody stupid to be honest! I understand the intention of political correctness and I believe (like many things that end up skewed) that it was born out of good intention. But so was communism, vivisection, and the destruction of the Amazon rainforest – yet we have come far enough to appreciate that these things are not actually good and do not benefit our society or world.

Political correctness was born in the 1970s to reduce sexism, racism and social bias while promoting equality and equal rights. That all sounds pretty good! For a period of time political correctness (“PC”) assisted our communities and countries to move forward towards a fairer and more equal world. Derogatory words describing both African Americans and Aboriginal people became inappropriate to use – an excellent example of healthy PC. The names of roles which were male dominant such as “Chairman” were broadened out to become “Chairperson” – again a positive development for equality. Yet somewhere at some stage the pendulum kept on swinging past logic, reason and sensibility and into the realms of the ridiculous.

Here is an extract from The Shovel that I think beautifully sums up what we are up against:

“The often-used term ‘political correctness gone mad’ should be changed to ‘political correctness that has become anxious or psychologically distressed’, a government committee has recommended.

The four-month study, which included a panel of 28 experts, concluded that the term ‘mad’ had the potential to stigmatise those with psychological issues and was out of step with current attitudes.

The report has led to outrage on social media channels, with many saying it is yet another example of political correctness gone mad. Insensitive arseholes.”

I am blown away that the Australian government has paid 28 experts to sit around for four months and talk about this. Maybe I am wrong, but I feel there are far greater issues at hand that 28 experts could be putting their time and energy towards.

Another example is provided by David Morrison, the former Chief of Army. He said that Australians should no longer use the word “guys” to refer to a collective group of persons (really!!). What does Dave want us to call them – “youse lot” or “my posse”? The fact that this was all over the media is an indication of just how far PC has infiltrated our lives.

If we were talking about equal pay for men and women or acknowledging and honouring different religious practices (or indeed voting yes for same sex marriage!) then count me in, but the crazy level of PC at the moment has got me scratching my head, asking myself where are we going to end up?

PC has barred us from openly discussing race, religion, sexuality and so many other topics. If freedom of expression is limited, we lose opportunities to explore more about ourselves, the society we live in and the world around us. This is a huge tragedy and will actually create the divide as opposed to closing it up.

People will always get offended – we are all different and we all see the world differently. PC has become about not causing offence to anyone as opposed to promoting equality and unity.

As adults, I do believe that we are grown up enough to accept a difference of opinion and even have a robust debate about those opinions. Guess what? We don’t have to agree, we don’t have to like each other’s views, and yes, those views may even cause us offence. I mean, put your big girl undies on and suck it up! (or should that be big person’s undies, so I don’t offend the men reading this?).

It is our job to manage ourselves, it is not the world’s job to ensure that we never experience emotions that might be uncomfortable.

Political correctness, it is time to put your leash back on!