The Departure Gate

 

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I love airports. They are the perfect cross-section of humanity.

Everyone is here. From the FIFO worker on his way home, right through to the family who is going on the much anticipated holiday. Work and pleasure, happiness and sadness, lone travellers and huge packs of them.

I am sitting here at Sydney International Airport about to board a flight to Nadi in Fiji and am taking in the people, the movement and the stories. I am continually intrigued about people; they genuinely fascinate me – and airports are a melting pot of stories, journeys and reasons. I love how so many different things have brought all of us here to this moment in time – where my path crosses other peoples’ paths and I get a glimpse into their world. A glimpse I might never see if I didn’t choose this chair, in this airport, on my way to that place.

The man sitting a few seats down from me in the coffee shop has been telling his neighbour that he is heading home to New Zealand to bury his Mum. He hadn’t spoken to her for several years after a family disagreement and I can hear the regret and pain in his voice.

“I had this feeling that something was wrong but I have been ignoring it for the last few months. Anyway, after much discussion, my wife convinced me to check in with everyone at home. I didn’t want to, but sometimes it’s just easier to let the missus win. So the feeling was right. My Mum had a brain tumour – an aggressive one – and it was killing her fast. Dad asked me to come back and see her – you know, fix things up before she dies. I honestly thought I had more time and I really believed I would make it home in time to hug her and say sorry. I have spent the last few weeks imagining the moment where I say sorry. I was such a prick to her the last time we spoke. I am gutted, just so gutted, that I didn’t get back in time”.

I thought I was going to start crying listening to this!

I wasn’t part of the conversation so it would have been incredibly inappropriate for me to start sobbing just a metre away from him but jeez..!

This is a gut-wrenching reason to be at the airport! Where has that family gone who was laughing about their trip to Disneyland??

It took all of my resolve to just listen and manage my own emotions. The pain emanating from this man was palpable – he oozed sadness and my heart just ached for him. Being the empathetic creature that I am, I had to get up and walk away. I couldn’t be so close to this man anymore because I was barely holding it together. I moved to the departure lounge from where my flight was soon leaving and started to write this. I am not even really sure what my point is other than don’t have regrets!

Life is too shortto have regrets, yet life is also funnily enough too longto have regrets.

I love airports. They are the perfect cross-section of humanity.

 

 

Angry does not even come close!!

hungry sheep behind the cage in sheep farm.

It is 4.22 on Monday morning and I am awake. I have slept fitfully all night because of my disturbed mind and have officially given up trying to rest.

Whenever I work with a coaching client who is experiencing disturbed sleep one of the strategies I discuss with them is to write down what is going on and get it out of their head. This normally creates some space for their mind to relax more.

This morning I am taking my own advice.

Last night I was at my girlfriend’s place having dinner. 60 Minutes, an Australian current affair show, came on the television and there was a particular segment on the live trade export industry. It was about the horrific conditions on board the giant livestock carrier, Assawi Express, which is loaded in my fair city of Perth.

Australia has for many years been exporting live sheep to the Middle East. For some reason this has been the preferred way to sell the meat – maybe it’s how the buyers want it over there, maybe it’s about maintaining the quality of the meat instead of transporting it already butchered – I don’t know.

As I watched the 13 minute segment, I was overcome with rage and then a sadness so deep that all I could do was cry. As the tears rolled down my cheeks, I felt so embarrassed and ashamed to be a part of a species that condones the treatment of another sentient being this way.

How on earth is this possible from a country like ours? How on earth can people be okay knowing that these animals are suffering the worst possible death in such appalling conditions?

The footage last night was nothing short of horrific: animals packed into these ships of death without the ability to move freely. They are packed so tightly that some of them struggle to access the food and water that is provided. A week into the voyage, the sheep are standing in ankle deep excrement which is covering the cargo hold floor.

The regulation states that pregnant sheep are not to be loaded but this is ignored. Often the young lambs are crushed to death being so small and they are then just thrown overboard. Their chance of survival (and let’s be honest, death in these conditions is most probably a gift) is so low for these young little beings.

The look in these animals’ eyes says it all. It was the same look that was in the eyes of the prisoners in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany who were on their way to death. It’s a look of fear; it’s a look of panic; it’s a look that once I had seen it, I could not shake from my mind.

It is hopelessness in huge, stomach-wrenching quantities!

The most devastating thing about these ships is they are HOT. After several weeks of sailing the boat arrives in the sweltering conditions of the Persian Gulf where the cargo hold temperatures rise to life-threatening heights. The sheep are effectively boiling to death in the cargo holds of these ships!

On one voyage when the weather in the Gulf was particularly hot, the Assawi Express ship records confirmed more than 880 sheep died in one day from heat stress. That’s one death every two minutes. The next day, 517 more sheep died. This “death zone” heatwave continued for five days.

The footage of these poor beings panting for air and slowly boiling to death is the horrendous image that has kept me awake throughout the night and continues to trouble me.

In Australia, it is unlawful to leave your dog in a car in hot temperatures that could harm them. I have been in carparks and observed Rangers smashing windows to free pets that have carelessly been left in a vehicle. I have then heard people heckling the owner when they return about what a terrible, cruel person they are.

Now, I don’t necessarily think that they are terrible people: thoughtless – yes, and not very smart – yes, but I am sure they love their animal. Yet people are so very quick to stand up and judge.

Well, judge this! The live export industry needs to be judged! The Australian people in support of the Australian farming community need to step up and demand that our animals no longer get treated this way. I can only imagine how distressed our farmers are knowing that this is how their livestock are being treated.

The man who got the story out is a trainee navigator, Faisal Ullah. He was so disturbed at the conditions these animals were being transported in that he secretly filmed footage on his mobile to expose what is happening. He talked about his heartbreak at being a part of this horror, and knew that if people understood the conditions we allowed these animals to be transported in there would be public outcry.

The man at the top of this tree, Graham Daws (the boss of Perth-based Emanuel Exports which owns the Assawi Express) did not, of course, want to face the music about the cruel conditions he is profiting from. Instead he directed the reporter to Simon Westaway, who is the chief executive of the Australian Live Exporters Council.

Simon Westaway argued Australia has the best live export standards worldwide. Now I was officially ropable!! Angry!! Outraged!! Horrified!! And so deeply, deeply saddened that yet again profit is coming before humanity.

Are we really that shallow?

Have we truly not evolved from the days of slavery and vivisection?

If these are the best standards in the world, how are other animals being treated elsewhere??? More importantly: what can we do for them?

Until we realise that every sentient being is of equal value, companies will continue to harm and abuse animals. I believe that my worth as a human being is no more or less than that of my pet dog or a sheep on a cargo ship.

It is 2018 and even though the consciousness of the planet is definitely improving, we need it to do so with way more urgency. The way that happens is we take a stand, we no longer sit idly by and say “Oh that’s terrible, what a shame for those poor animals”.

We talk about it, we write about it and we use our consumer dollar to send a message to companies to treat their animals humanely or they will not be supported.

Enough is enough.

If you feel as deeply saddened as I do, please take some form of action around this.  Here is an RSPCA link if you would like to join the thousands of others petitioning our politicians to make change to this industry. Alternatively, Stop Live Exports regularly organises protests in support of stopping this practise and has tons of great information on their website.

 

 

 

 

Get your Nude on

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When Was The Last Time You Were Naked In Public?

I imagine this question strikes fear into many of your hearts! So many of us aren’t even comfortable being naked in the privacy of our own homes – like in front of our loved ones or a full length mirror.

On Sunday I was in Sydney to take part in the 5th annual “Sydney Skinny”. The Sydney Skinny is a nude race (well more of a splash around than a race!) which is swum in Middle Harbour and raises money for the Charlie Teo Foundation, a brain cancer research charity.

This is the second year I have participated and I must say that there is a lot to be said for getting your kit off and swimming in one of the most beautiful harbours in the world.

It’s liberating.

It’s empowering.

But most profoundly, it’s equalising.

Last year when I swam I was a little daunted at the thought of being naked in front of so many people. I remember as we were walking down to the beach that my heart was beating a bit faster than normal, and I am pretty sure I had a mild “deer in the headlights” look going on!

Within minutes of being in the Harbour and feeling the water on my body (as well as seeing so many people laughing and having fun), all of my fears and concerns were quite literally washed away.

I just focused on how freeing and liberating it felt, and made sure that I took in the spectacular views. I had such a sense of gratitude with that first race – gratitude that I said yes to the opportunity, and that I could support Charlie Teo (he is such a lovely man!) in his life-changing work. Getting to make these wild memories with one of my best friends was also another huge bonus for me.

Back to equalising though. It became apparent very quickly on that first swim that we were all just a bunch of people of all different shapes, sizes, colours, backgrounds, religions, cultures and ages who are doing their best and having some fun.

All the fears I had about being naked in front of strangers stemmed from me comparing myself to what the “ideal” woman looks like and how I am not that woman. I have a bum and thighs and my boobs are on the small side. I have got stretch marks from my teenager growth spurt and the beginnings of bunions on my feet. The media has made it clear that the “ideal” woman has a very different body to the one I have, and as much I have grown through my body image issues there is nothing like the thought of getting naked with a thousand other people to be triggered!

My realisation was that all my discomfort, suffering and fear came from judgment – judgment that I am not the “ideal” shape and that I have blemishes on my body, for example. The fact is though, this vessel has carried me through 42 years of life…of course there are a few dings here and there!

On the beach with all the naked swimmers around me it became clear that there is no “ideal” man or woman. The media has done us such a great disservice and sold us such a terrible story. That story is that we are not enough and that perfection is the only beautiful thing. But what is perfection anyway?? The media’s story prevents us from celebrating the amazing bodies that we have been given, and it further heightens our need to compare.

We are all unique and most importantly – beautiful – in our own way. Instead of comparing ourselves, we should be celebrating ourselves. It is our differences that make us special, not our sameness.

As Osho, the Indian spiritual guru says:

“Whoever told you that the bamboo is more beautiful than the oak, or the oak more valuable than the bamboo?

Do you think the oak wishes it had a hollow trunk like this bamboo?

Does the bamboo feel jealous of the oak because it is bigger and its leaves change colour in the fall?

The very idea of the two trees comparing themselves to each other seems ridiculous, but we humans seem to find this habit very hard to break.”

Returning this year to the Sydney Skinny was even more enjoyable than the first time. This time around I didn’t judge myself and as a result I didn’t feel judged. I was just so excited about getting in the water again and it was the most beautiful day! My friends and I relaxed happily on the beach post-race and even got in to swim the course a second time.

The nudity wasn’t even an issue.

The whole event is really just a celebration of life, connection, humanity and everyone being uniquely themselves. As I lay in bed at the end of the day I thanked my body for all the amazing work she does day in and day out – she deserves so much praise for all that she does – and this weekend reminded me of that.

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We all have a story

City Beach

This morning I was at one of my favourite West Australian beaches, City Beach. This beach has crystal clear water and white sand and is very popular with the locals.

After my swim I parked myself up on the grass and spent the next hour watching the world go by. It was blissful! I was meant to be reviewing some notes that I had brought with me but as often happens I got sucked in to the study of humanity. I just can’t seem to help it!

People-watching has to be one of the greatest ways to appreciate human beings in all their shapes, sizes and colours. The greatest thing about it is that the subjects don’t know they are being studied and therefore behave in a natural and unfiltered way.

It was a long weekend here and there was definitely a holiday feeling in the air – families with little children, teenagers with arms slung around each others’ necks, and single people absorbed in their phones as their feet hit the sand.

The thing that really struck me today as I sat there and watched the comings and goings, was the appreciation that everyone has their story – their own unique (and most probably colourful) story.

Even though there were hundreds upon hundreds of us sharing the same stretch of beach, we all arrived at the beach with our own past experience, our own filters of the world, our own belief systems and value sets, and our very own story about life.

So often we forget that every person is doing the best they can with what they have.

There was a father who was extremely frustrated with his two small children. The kids clearly didn’t want to leave the beach and were putting up a very strong (yet unsuccessful) fight. Dad was not open to negotiation and the air around them was tense. The kids trailed behind him with tears and resistance, yet ultimately they knew they had to comply. They huffed and puffed and occasionally sat on the ground in complete defiance. This prompted their father to get even more stern with them until finally they felt compelled to get up and keep trudging on towards the car.

It made me curious about what they needed to get home to. Maybe there was a mountain of work that the dad had to do before tomorrow. Maybe it was time for the kids to go back to their mum’s for the week if the family was no longer together. Who knows?

What I do know is that the dad has his story, and so do the kids. My only job is to respect and appreciate that.

It would have been so easy for me to judge them because of the all the tension, but instead I made myself stay curious. I mean: I have no idea what their story is, yet I noticed that my mind wanted to go straight to judgment. Staying curious took some energy.

Left in the wake of this energetic storm, I noticed an older gentleman walking up the path with a boy I assumed to be his grandson. They were chatting happily and the older man kept touching the boy’s shoulders in such a loving and thoughtful way. They shared a joke, or something funny and as they came closer to me, I heard them cackling with laughter and slapping each other on the back. They seemed so genuinely taken with each other that the rest of the world paled into insignificance.

It was so beautiful to watch, and again, I started to hypothesise about their story. Maybe they hadn’t seen in other in a long time and were beyond excited to be together again? Maybe this is a weekly ritual? Maybe it is totally unimportant for me to know.

My only job is to appreciate them and respect that they – like you and me – have their story and are doing the best they can.

 

 

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.

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.

 

 

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.