Expectation versus Appreciation

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Expectation versus appreciation is a very simple concept, yet it is one that I find many people struggle with (me included!).  It seems that we tend to wander through life with a set of expectations that more often than not trip us up and cause us pain. We have these ideas of how things should be, how people should behave, and sometimes even what the weather should be doing.

Why do we do that? That is the million dollar question!

An expectation is a strong belief that something should go a certain way or be a certain way. This presupposes that we must have some level of control over what is happening outside of us for there to even be that belief in the first place.

Yet we know (normally from past experience) that that is simply not true.  In fact, as we get older, most of us realise that we have very limited control over anything that is outside of ourselves.

We can only control how we show up, how we respond, how we communicate and so on. Basically, we can only control us and nothing else. Yet we still have this very lengthy list of expectations tucked into our back pocket that we pull out at every possible moment – usually to our own detriment.

I feel confident enough to say that there would be a direct correlation between the amount of expectations one has and the amount of let down or pain one feels.

Appreciation, on the other hand, is the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.  Appreciation is all about what is in front of us right now.  It requires presence and utilises a totally different focus.

Appreciation is underwritten by gratitude, and gratitude is an exceptionally powerful emotional state.  Gratitude has been proven to improve things like our sleeping patterns, physical health, self-esteem and so much more.

Spending more time coming from this place has to make sense: appreciation clearly looks like WAY more fun than expectation!

The premise of this tool (which I learnt from Tony Robbins) is that when we can trade expectation for appreciation we enjoy life so much more. We are in the moment and are focusing from a higher vibrational place: from love as opposed to fear.

If, in that moment when you experience frustration because your partner hasn’t cleaned the house while you were out (an expectation), you were instead able to appreciate that they welcomed you home with open arms and a cup of tea, how different would the conversation be?

What if, when you experienced unfairness and annoyance because you didn’t get the promotion you honestly thought you had in the bag (expectation), you were instead able to trade it for appreciation at the excellent feedback you got on how you could improve next time?

Now I am not saying this is an easy path to walk, I know that I have certainly been challenged living by this at times.

What I do know though, is that it is certainly the happier path – the path of more joy, acceptance and gratitude.

And who doesn’t want more of that in their life?

 

 

 

 

A Course in Miracles

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A Course in Miracles is an amazing text written in the 1970s by Helen Schucman and William Thetford, two professors of medical psychology at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Neither of them were particularly spiritual people and the book was certainly not an account of how to live according to their lives.  They didn’t get on particularly well and the office where they worked was often stress-filled and tense.

It was through sheer frustration that Thetford announced one day “There has to be a better way” – to which Schucman responded “I agree Bill – and I will help you find it”.

And so the Course in Miracles was born.

I have been a student of the Course in Miracles for over two years. It is a monster of a text and requires me to be totally present when I am reading.  It found its way into my life in one of those very synchronistic kind of ways.

It just kept popping up on to my radar – everywhere I turned there seemed to be a reference to it.  Every new teacher whose message deeply resonated with me referred to A Course in Miracles as a profound text that had significantly impacted their journey.  After this had happened five or six times I finally said to the Universe “Yes, you now have my attention and I will go and buy this book”.

Teachers such as Van Tharp (one of the best super traders on the planet), Oprah Winfrey, Marianne Williamson, Neal Diamond Walsh, Gabby Berstien and so many others credit A Course in Miracles as a pivotal text on their journeys and I now understand why.

It is a complex read but the messages are pure, enlightened and all about love.  One of the most predominant messages throughout the book is that there are only two emotions – love and fear – and we as humans tend to get very stuck in fear and ego. Unfortunately this is where all the pain resides.

The following passage was written by Marianne Williamson from her book A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles. I think it beautifully sums up the message of the text and it truly lights up my soul:

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

If you get a chance to be a student of A Course in Miracles, take it.  As much as it is a challenging read, the love, wisdom and grace in this book are sure to light up something in you that is truly magical, for you too are a child of God.

 

 

The Quiet Whisper of Intuition

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During the week I watched an excellent four minute clip by a man called Kerwin Rae.  He is a businessman, entrepreneur, investor, international speaker and a very dynamic man.

In 2009, Kerwin suffered a stroke and was lucky to survive.  After the stroke, his short term memory was reduced to 15 seconds which meant he stopped paying attention to what people were saying because he couldn’t retain the information anyway. Instead, he started to “feel” them to work out whether he wanted them to be near him or not.  Through this process he honed his intuition and became very skilled at feeling energy and intention.

In this clip Kerwin talks about the energy that people have and how, when we develop our own intuition, we are able to accurately feel the intention of the people around us. He says that intention is the energy that is being sent out by another that we then intuitively pick up on.

Have you ever walked into a room and met a person and they have just felt wrong or bad?  They may not have even spoken yet, but energetically, your intuition is picking up on them and their intention. Alternatively, have you ever met someone who you connected with instantly and felt a lot of energetic attraction to even if a single word had not yet been said?

I am a huge believer in the philosophy of energy and intuition.  We are energetic beings living in an energetic world, so it makes perfect sense that we can pick up on someone else’s energy/intention even if we are not aware that we are doing it.

The points that really captured my attention in this short clip were Kerwin’s views on how we respond to our intuition – our innate knowing that often cannot be explained by logic or reason.

He said that normally two things happen: Firstly, we simply don’t hear our intuition because of the amount of noise that is in our internal or external environment. We are so over-stimulated with noise, colour, technology and life that we struggle to hear the quiet whisper that is our intuition (and often it is just a whisper).

Secondly, Kerwin said that when we do hear our intuition, we follow it and if things appear to go wrong we tend to blame it and vow that we will not listen to it again: “Damn! I am not listening to my gut again – that turned into a disaster!”. We give up on it so quickly when we don’t enjoy the outcome.

The defining point that I love about this is that it is unfolding exactly as it should.  He said our intuition is connected to infinite intelligence, and it is playing a far bigger game than what we can ever conceive.

So we follow our intuition, something goes “wrong” and we stop following it, when we should instead trust that whatever happened is a part of the process to get us to where we need to be. We need to trust that we are getting the learning that will prepare us for the journey we are on – that in actual fact this event is the prerequisite for the amazing event that will unfold in two, three, or four years time.

Kerwin’s main point of the clip is that when we hone our intuition we become so much better at business and life in general.  Intuition is not about everything feeling great, it’s about connecting to a game plan that is far greater than what our minds can appreciate and therefore living our most abundant life.

 

Shake that booty!!

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One of my most favourite things to do in the world is dance, or more specifically, to dance with my young nieces.

There is something about dancing with children that gives me the space to really let loose, not care how I look, and get in touch with my inner rockstar!  There was a long period in my life where the only time I danced was when I was out with friends late at night and quite a few (let’s be honest – many!) champagnes down.

When my nieces arrived on the planet I felt like I had been reintroduced to my inner child. I think I had totally forgotten her and disconnected from her. A big part of that was how I moved my body. I hadn’t played on swings for years, hadn’t bombied in the pool like a hooligan, and I certainly hadn’t danced around the living room sober with total abandonment.  I realised that by being a full-time adult, I was moving my body so differently and in such a limited way.

Over the last ten years as I have spent more time with my inner child, I have found that I have so much more pleasure in my life. Being with her makes me feel so free and filled with joy. On reflection I realise that I had forgotten how to be playful in pursuit of being an adult. And I had gotten very good at being an adult!  One of the greatest gifts that my nieces have given me is to show me how to be a kid again and access that state very easily.

As simple as it sounds, dancing, playing “Apple On A Stick” (a hand clapping game that you play with another person), exploring the beach for shells, climbing trees, having handstand competitions in the pool, riding irresponsibly fast down a hill on our bikes, chasing each other around the garden, and shooting goals on the netball court is where my inner child likes to play.

Every single part of who we are is worthy of love and attention: our Inner Child, Queen, Teacher, Warrior Princess, Caregiver, Rebel, and all the other parts, both light and dark.

Honour them all by finding your ‘thing’: the thing that connects you powerfully to the other parts of yourself simultaneously.

For me, that is dancing with my nieces.

 

 

 

What makes you happy?

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I was recently asked a question by a person I had just met, “So Kate, what makes you happy?”.

As I responded, I got to truly show who I was:  my values, the things I love, how I spend my time and so much more. Answering a question like that is a glimpse into another person’s soul so much more than the usual “What do you do?” or “Where do you live?”.

His question indicated that he was genuinely interested in understanding who I am as opposed to knowing the external factors or vehicles in my life. Often in our society we allow those external things to define us, but they are not who we really are.

I found this question totally refreshing and got immense enjoyment out of listing all the things that make my heart sing. I spoke about:

My family. Especially my nieces (and especially dancing with my nieces whilst pretending to be rockstars!).

My friends. Especially my “mantlepiece” friends (best friends). Especially breaking bread with my mantlepiece friends, and especially laughing whilst breaking bread with my mantlepiece friends!

Nature. Especially being amongst the trees. Especially being amongst the trees whilst enjoying their energy, and especially being amongst the trees whilst enjoying their energy when there are no other people around!

Coaching. Especially serving my clients. Especially serving my clients whilst they are creating amazing breakthroughs, and especially serving my clients whilst they are creating amazing breakthroughs and changing the lives of the people they love in the process.

This conversation went on for quite a while and my list was very extensive, he had to stop me at number 74! It was such a pleasure to share all of these nuggets of joy with someone and I realised I hadn’t actually thought long and hard about all the things that make me happy in quite a while.

As I verbalised each of them, I got to visit the moment again and by the time I had finished answering his question, I felt amazingly happy and deeply blessed.

I asked the same question of him because I wanted to give him the chance to enjoy a walk down happiness lane too. Plus, it is just an outstanding question to ask!

Can you imagine a world where instead of asking about what we own, or do, or where we live, we asked about what makes a person truly happy? How much more connected would we all be? How much easier would it be to contribute to another person’s joy in life? How much more interesting would the conversation be?

So I am curious, what is it that makes you happy?

 

 

Man’s (and Woman’s) best friend

 

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What is it about dogs that makes them so absolutely wonderful??

Is it the unconditional love? All the ways that they think you are the best person in the world?

Is it how they look at you, with a smile in their eyes and an open and eager heart?

Is it because they are just so present and are experts at living in the moment?

I am over here in Brisbane (I live in Perth) and am staying with my gorgeous friend and her family who, since my last visit, have a new dog! I am pumped! Billy Dog is a Scmoodle (aka super cute) and has the most infectious and joyful energy.

Today is her birthday so I am writing this blog to celebrate her special day and to express my deep love for dogs and all they give us. I have always had dogs in my life and when I reflect over each and every one of them, they have all taught me so much.

Children who get the opportunity to grow up with dogs, I think, get a whole different perspective on life. Not only because they are able to practice those soft skills like responsibility, discipline and caring for another being. They also get exposed to unconditional love of the animal variety, playfulness, friendship, loyalty and often tolerance, acceptance and forgiveness as well. Dogs are so great at teaching those qualities without even knowing they are doing it.

Growing up, we had two Blue Heelers (also known as Australian Cattle Dogs) and one Jack Russell. The Blueys were called Rosebud and Violet and the Jack Russell was Daisy. Yep, we named them in accordance with a flower theme.

The Blueys were tough. I grew up on 20 acres next to government catchment land and the Girls were always out there looking for stuff to chase, bring down or hunt. There was many a morning when we found an animal or part there-of on the doorstep. They would be so proud for having brought a gift home, and they sure were confused when I would open the door to half a dead kangaroo and start yelling like a banshee!

Mum often sent us off into the valley to play for the day with a packed lunch and the dogs. She knew that we would be 100% safe because the dogs would know how to bring us home if we got lost and they would never let anyone hurt us due to their protective nature.

Rosebud and Violet taught me to be an adventurer, to be in the moment and to love unconditionally and loyally. They always forgave me when I didn’t pay them attention or forgot to feed them or just didn’t care about them because I was thinking about me. They were always about the love.

They would always be by my side if I was sick, they let me dress them up, and they were always ready to play with me if I wanted that.

Those dogs really did make my childhood so memorable. I have always seen pets as family members and I am so grateful that I had so many siblings over the years.

Dogs rock.

 

Life is a journey, not a destination…..

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Today I was chatting with two beautiful ladies I work with and the conversation turned to the topic of “life is a journey, not a destination”.  One of the ladies was sharing her experiences on achievement and how, once she achieves whatever her goal is, only then is she allowed to enjoy the fruits of her labour (or the fruits of her experience).  That belief really challenged me for several different reasons. Mostly, because the enjoyment of the process is all determined by the outcome.  Being in the now is not enough because the goal has not yet been realised. Don’t smell the roses, just keep on marching through, we are not there YET!

So what happens when the goal, for whatever reason, is not realised? Does that mean the process of going after the goal can no longer hold any joy or celebration?

I notice more and more that our world is obsessed with right and wrong and good and bad. I absolutely appreciate the power of contrast, yet so often we use it against ourselves. It is treated as a weapon to destroy our enjoyment in the NOW.  If there is “right”, well here must be “wrong”.

“If I don’t get the outcome I want, well this all has been a waste of time and energy”, “It was meant to go this way but it didn’t so I won’t celebrate the journey of getting to here even though I may have learnt a lot”

Why are we so focused on finishing the race when we are smack bang in the middle of it?

Life is in the learning and if we continually pass the learning by because we are so focussed on the outcome, well, it is a huge injustice to ourselves and our creator.  The danger of living a destination orientated life is that we only allow ourselves to celebrate our achievements once we have achieved them.  We are wrong until we have arrived at right.

“Until I am living in the beautiful house, I am not really a success”, “Until, I have $200,000 in the bank, I am not really secure.”

I got to call it, it’s total and utter bullshit!

Imagine how different life could be if you woke up, ate a great breakfast, kissed your partner and kids and then announced that you are a success.  I mean you are breathing, healthy, connected to others and have food on your table.  That automatically puts you in the top percentages of people on the planet. Imagine how different life could be if you royally stuffed up the business deal and because of that, learnt something that you never would have come across any other way and were able to turn that into a deal that is 10 times bigger than anything you could have previously imagined?  What if each day you focussed on the journey of your life with total appreciation,  that you are right where you should be?

When I think of people who go on these amazing treks over months at a time, they talk about the moments along the way so much more than the moment they finished the journey.  The moment of finishing is so, so sweet because of the preciousness of all those hours, days and weeks that have gone into getting them there.

The Now is where it’s at, enjoy the journey……

 

Don’t cheat yourself (or the world), you are Powerful!

 

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This last week I have had four conversations with people who truly believe that they have no power, that they are unable to effect change in their life or anyone else’s.  Collectively, the message was “I have no control over my life, I am powerless to do anything about it”, “I can’t change the world, I am just some small speck on the planet, there really is nothing I can do”, and  lastly “Well, the Earth is ruined anyway so what’s the point of me doing things any differently”.

This is such an ineffective story to have, plus its total BS!! Every single one of us is powerful.  The decision lies in whether or not we want to step into that power. Do I want to live from an empowered place where I trust that I can make a difference or do I want to live from a disempowered place where I believe I have no ability to influence myself or others?

I remember my Dad telling me a story when I was in my teenager years.  It is the story of the starfish on the beach.  There is a man walking along the beach and the beach is covered in starfish.  They have all been washed up on to the shore and now are going to die because they are out of the water.  The man, as he is walking along, is picking the starfish up and throwing them back into the ocean.  Another man is walking along the beach in the opposite direction and he says to the guy picking up the starfish, “Mate, don’t even bother throwing them back in, there are just to many of them to make a difference”.

The man who is picking up the starfish casually throws another one back into the ocean and turns to the other person and say “Well, it made a difference to that one”

I love this story because it illustrates so beautifully that making a difference doesn’t have to be saving the planet (or ourselves) in one foul swoop, its doing lots of little things that empower not only us but the world around us. For each and every starfish that got thrown back into the ocean, he made a difference. For each and every starfish, that man got to experience the pleasure of his own empowerment as he helped something outside of himself.

I get that we sometimes feel so small in the face of some of the challenges that we have on earth right now but remember, as a family, community, city, country  we become VERY powerful, especially as we banned together.  Imagine if all those people who have effected amazing change, had the same belief as those people I have spoken to this week.  India would still be controlled by the British, Apartheid would still be alive and well in South Africa, women would still not be voting and the hole in the Ozone layer would be ginormous by now.

So the question is, how do we as individuals express our power?  Well, we speak up, we have opinions, we have conversations, we say no or we say yes, we ask, we get curious and we continue to educate ourselves about what ever it is that we feel passionate about.

Every time we go to the shops and open our wallet we are telling industry what we like and don’t like.  Twenty five years ago there were no organic sections (in my memory) in the major supermarkets, if you were Vegan you were a freak and now there are cafes that only serve coffee with non diary milk, recycling was a novelty, animal testing was rife and and products didn’t have to be labelled to state whether it had occurred or not.  Recently, the Australian government conducted a survey on Animal testing with the view of changing the laws to match the will of the people.

So really, when you think about it, we have already come a long way.  I firmly believe that we have come a long way because of people like you, me and the four people I spoke to during the week (they just don’t realise it). We are creating the world we live in, whether we do it consciously or not, so lets do it consciously and be really POWERFUL.

The Power of Small things

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Yesterday I was at the dog park with my niece, Tessa.  We were taking Daisy for a walk.  Daisy is the cutest cavoodle in the world and I have the honour of looking after her for a couple of weeks while her parents are overseas.

It was the most wonderful outing.

Its autumn here in Perth and the sun is warm at this time of year yet without the harshness of the summer sun.  It is like sitting in front of a heater that is at the perfect temperature.  The sky was bright blue, there wasn’t a cloud to be seen and the air was fresh and clean.

The park is surrounded by big, tall white gums and gum trees and the wind that was blowing gently through them making them rustle happily.

Tess and I were throwing the ball for Daisy and geez, that is total joy on steroids for any ball loving dog!  She ran and chased, fetched and returned over and over again.  The most magnificent part of all the ball throwing for me was her smile, pure happiness and joy.  That dog did not think about anything else except where that ball was and how quickly she could get to it. She galloped, she tripped herself up and she ran with total abandon.  It truly was soul food for her and even more so for Tess and I who watched and enjoyed it so richly.

There is a small seating stand at the park and Tess, who sees herself as an aspiring actress, wanted us to use it as a prop and do some acting.  She went first, pretending to be a cheerleader for the Hawthorn Football Club (her favourite team in the WORLD).  I swiftly followed her up by pretending to be the Queen going past in a royal carriage and waving to her subjects. It felt weird at first but I could see how much fun Tess was having so I just let go and went with it.  It was really quite magical by the end and we had laughed A LOT!

I took my sneakers off as we continued around the park and we ran barefoot over the soft, green grass.  It is long and lush at the moment and it felt amazing on my feet.  After several more laps around the grass area we decided it was time to head home.  Daisy Dog was pooped and we had important matters to attend to, like making hot chocolate and working on the playlist for our next family holiday.

As I reflected on my day last night and I thought about all I was grateful for, I realised that the day had been full of small things. Small things of love, small things of joy, small things of happiness.

There is such an abundance of beauty in our day but often because those things are small, we miss them or we are moving too fast to even appreciate them.

Life really is about the small things.

A Man in a Cave….

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There was once a man in a cave, he was in pain and felt alone. He felt that no one truly understood what he was going through, he felt overwhelmed by all that he had to face out there in the world. He questioned the decisions he had made in the past and felt very unsure about making any decisions for the future. Life hadn’t gone how he thought it would and sometimes the only place that he felt safe was back in his cave.

His cave, even though it was dark and sometimes lonely provided him with solace and the time, the space, the quiet, that he needed to think through all that was going on. He often felt guilty wanting to spend time in his cave because there were people who wanted him out in their world, pulling him back when it really wasn’t what he wanted or needed at that moment.

The thing about this man, was he was very wise, he was smart and intelligent and he knew what he needed to nourish himself in times of difficulty and sometimes that was time in his cave. He was brave to ask for it and even braver to just take it when he knew it was a must, something he had to do for himself.

Now his cave certainly provided him with safety and comfort and it definitely gave him the space he craved but in those times of being on his own, focusing on his problems, feeling his pain, he would often forget about the things outside his cave that bought him joy. In all the darkness, he could easily forget about the light, the sun rising, the warmth on his face, the trees moving in the wind and other simple pleasures that nourished him deeply just outside his cave.

At the door of this man’s cave sat a woman. This woman loved him very much. She wanted the best for him, she wanted him to see himself how she saw him. She was a very kind woman, full of love and gratitude and eventually patience. She realised that if she was to truly love this man in the way that he needed she would go on living her life yet every day return to the door of her beloved’s cave just in case today was the day he felt ready to come back to the world.

Each day, when this woman went to sleep, she said a prayer for the man in the cave. She prayed for him to find peace in his life, she prayed for him to feel the love of the people around him and she prayed that he would find the courage to do and be whoever he needed to be to be truly happy again.

Loving another in the way they wanted to be loved can sometimes be challenging.  Loving ourselves first, before we love another, is the path to true fulfilment, because as we sacrifice ourselves, we sacrifice the quality of the love we are able to give.