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Just a thought (Find your own Way)

31 Oct

yellow-arrowWhen we keep life simple it is surprising how good our lives can feel. Happiness is not complicated, it was never meant to be.

Our lives can feel complicated because life around us can feel that way. Organizations constantly ensure that nothing seems straightforward. Just listen to all the waffle involved in banking A.P.R, A.C.R or A.E.R all have something to do with interest rates but  just complicate something that should seem simple. Try to book a flight on a low-cost airline and not feel stressed. I did this recently and very diligently ticked and un-ticked the boxes provided( somehow I have a feeling I won’t be able to avail of the toilet on my flight due to not! ticking a box)  what actually happened is I ended up purchasing travel insurance I never asked for!!!  Read the legal terms for anything you purchase or sign up to and resign to the fact you  don’t know what was really said. Purchasing insurance and getting caught out by the small print just proves that small print should be banned. Advertisements on radio try to sell us a product with happy jingles and humour and just as we begin to think Yep I am buying into this we hear the last refrain from the narrators audio”Terms and conditions apply…..” Which usually means you have to jump through hoops to get to the next step. Some Solicitor gets the guy who robbed your house or crashed into your car off on a technicality when he knows a crime or infringement took place

Sometimes you just want to switch off. The truth is you will feel better if you do. Advertisements make us feel worse. Ultimately the director is trying to make us feel positive about a product we could not care less about and eventually purchase it. We panic about not having the right car,life,home or health insurance……the list goes on. We feel we are not participating unless we are purchasing. Our leaders ask us to stop saving money and get the country back on track by ………shopping!  Our thinking , societies thinking and those that lead us do nothing  to create the lives that we deserve. Oil companies in The U.S receive subsidies of $4 billion a year and McDonald’s costs that American Taxpayer $1.2 Billion annually because workers are not paid enough to support themselves. They serve food that contributes to a nations ill-health. Yet the media nag govt get excited when a fast food chain announces 100 new jobs, yet we never get to look beyond the real cost to our society.

It doesn’t make sense. We are thinking completely the wrong way. Opting out to live a simpler life allows us to create a less stressed world. Not always an easy thing to do!

This Summer I took 5 weeks off and travelled across Spain on the beautiful Camino. I made a conscious effort to disconnect as much as I possibly could. No Emails, no phone conversations about 5 in total. No newspapers no news, no Tv = no worries.

I didn’t have any idea what was happening in world news or my home country’s news and guess what…. it didn’t matter. I connected with people every day. We talked , we supported each other ,we laughed, we broke bread together and we perfected the skill of being able to stay in the moment. We carried our essentials in our backpacks so we had no luxuries. Shower gel  and shampoo were luxuries rarely found. Nothing else mattered each day but the yellow arrows that guided us to our destination and the wonderful awareness of each step. The masks came off and it was just our t-shirts, shorts and boots, your afternoon shower was the cleanest you would be for 24 hours. Yet it is in these simple actions that we are happiest. No longer bombarded by tv or media but completely aware of ourselves and those around us and experiencing what everything…. your past…. your future is made from…….  a series of Nows.

Wake Up! Turn off the world once in a while and spend time in silence away from the manufactured complications of this world. As the yellow arrows that guide you along the Camino( the Way) signify a simplicity in moving forward. It is by welcoming this simplicity to that you will embrace moving forward.

Thankyou to my fellow travellers who made my journey so much easier and wonderful beyond words Netje,Carlo,Amy,An Nie,Doroty, Jerry,Kazuyuki, Raimon, Denise, Becky,Martin, Rory and Raquel… there is a special place in my heart for all of you.

A Wake Up Call.. | TragedyandHope

25 Sep

I have not posted in a while. I have spent my summer walking the Camino across Northern Spain. It  was beautiful and I wanted to share this with You regarding our beautiful world.

A Wake Up Call.. | TragedyandHope.

Actions make the difference.

3 Apr

IMG_7116I like it when people come up with their own solutions. We nearly always have the answer but it is the failure to act on that realisation that prevents change. Actions always make the difference If you want something in your life to improve for the better a positive action is required from you. As Aesop once wrote “After all that has been said and done, there is a lot more said than done”. So true.

Over the next series of articles I am going to talk about what can we do that will help when we are feeling down for a period of time and need our mood lifted. Life can throw up some difficulties, that is simply life, we do not get to escape this. Nobody gets to sail through life without feeling the strains of a difficult period in a relationship,the loss of someone we care about or the stress of accidents and injuries that our Children or us encounter. It is the actions that follow that matter.

If you do nothing, nothing changes

So I have put together some examples of solutions that my course participants have provided that when put into action will help move you on to a brighter place. I will talk about them over the next series of blogs.

Some of them will seem very obvious but as obvious as they seem,you need to ask yourself when was the last time you did this and what are the benefits this action will bring to your life.

Years ago I had a huge fear of heights. I decided I could live with this fear of heights simply through avoidance of situations that caused this panic…. or I could do an action that might change this. I decided to jump out of a plane…. by myself.

I always remember that morning when I turned up for training at the airfield. The camaraderie and laughs with the other potential jumpers that morning was a great distraction from what really was ahead. We laughed as we changed into our silly orange jump suits and jumped off  7ft platforms learning how to roll as we hit the ground and “kick out” if our parachute became tangled mid-air. We happily rolled up parachutes that morning, cracked nervous jokes and chatted over lunch.

It was after lunch that the mood began to change. It was explained that the jumps would be taking place in groups of threes as the plane was a small Cessna. “Who wants to go first?” said the instructor I thought that sight of someone else heading towards the earth without their chute opening might put me off. So I volunteered for the first group.

With my parachute on my back and the plane bobbing towards us on the grass airfield all the fun and games of the morning seemed a distant thought as the colour drained from my face and the nearest toilet seemed like a good option. The pilot asked me my name and details… I could not even speak… complete fear had taken over I had never felt as scared in my life as I did at that point… and we where still on the ground! As we climbed into the plane and knelt facing forward I thought I was going to get  ill as the plane began to taxi down the grass runway and hover into the air. All the jokes in the world from the Instructor  and Pilot could not alleviate the fear that I was feeling right then.

As we approached 2000ft and the door off the plane opened I was never more awake or aware than at that moment. The instructor indicated to me to move slowly towards the door… place one foot on the wing strut and one foot at the door…. I could see all the fields and cows below me. Just like Father Ted explaining to Father Dougal the difference between “Near and far away” these definitely where far away.  My heart was ready to explode…. I could hear the instructors voice behind me shouting three words Go! Go! Go!. …..What did I do?

I looked down at the fields below me and felt the wind gush against me as I stood at the plane exit and I thought this is it, pause and I will never do it. I jumped…. one thousand, two thousand, three thousand…. aaaaaaaaaaaahhhh( I am being kind with my phrasing here).

I looked up at my parachute to check It had opened properly. It had not … it was slightly tangled…this would cause it to drop like a burst balloon… if I did not kick out as I did…. and suddenly begin to float slowly towards those beautiful green fields. What a feeling, oh what a feeling. The adrenaline and excitement were pumping through my veins as I celebrated with some of the coarsest words in the English language as I floated downwards. Thinking there are world leaders,politicians and some of the greatest minds  of our time who would never attempt to do what I have just done!!

Had I changed my fear off heights? It certainly helped. My next jump at 12000ft feet felt less nerve-wracking . My next one in a few weeks time will be just as much fun.

Actions always make the difference. Do nothing and nothing changes. Just be mindful of what ones you choose.

Wake Up! to the sound of nothing

18 Feb

Doolin wavesLast week I was so lucky to have a couple of days to myself. I decided to drop in on one of my favourite places in the world Doolin, Co Clare. Specifically to the Rainbow hostel where Carmel and Mattie Shannon provided  warm and welcoming hospitality in their homely hostel.

The real reason I was down was to buy a Surfboard and catch some surfing in nearby Lahinch. I managed to get the surfing in which was a beautiful Wake Up! while enjoying thew February Atlantic. As the Danish say “There is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes“.

I never purchased the Surfboard as the surf assistants unwillingness to haggle cost him a sale. Even a 5% token discount would have got him a happy customer and a sale at a time of the year when things are slow. Not great business sense …but there you go.

The two days down by the Atlantic where so therapeutic. Surfing by day and watching the waves crash against Doolin pier  and surrounding rocks at high tide each evening was a form of meditation. As I walked up the country road to the hostel at night the sky provided the clearest views of the stars that I had ever seen. Beautiful and silent with just the sounds of the crashing Atlantic in the distance as I walked. Inside Carmel’s hostel the log stove in the front room provided warmth in a room filled with nothing but the wind from outside as I sat reading and connecting with the wonderful stillness of the present moment.

The experience that you get in the Rainbow hostel is not found in any Hotels that I have visited. maybe it’s the warm welcome from Carmel the scones in the morning or just the simple solitude. Whatever it is it works.

Nature is beautiful yet we rarely make enough connections with it as we fleetingly move from distractions to distractions that never provide lasting imprints on our memories. As the world turned and the Pope abdicated while share prices rose and fell and rose again none of this seemed to matter as the silence and pleasure of the now in a small remote town on the western coast of Europe took over.

Happy Days.

Lessons for living -Travel more

21 Aug

As someone who has just returned from 10 days travelling and surfing the West coast of Ireland I can vouch for this. Travelling opens us up to activities and experiences that remain within our memory for a very long time. Not only do these memories stay with us but the happiness that we experience from meeting new people (remember we love to make social connections) and exploring new environments and cultures make some of the highlights of our lives.

Some of the greatest stories that we tell about our lives are the stories we experienced while travelling. All the Elders that had come to the latter part of their lives realized that travelling more was a great contributor to happiness in life. I am only thinking of the people I met while hostelling in Doolin Co Clare last week from Germany Italy , France and Austria that I would not have met if I had not left my sitting room couch. Similarly the beauty and memories of an ice cold Prague in February or a sun drenched Turkish holiday to some of the worlds most amazing archaeological sites would not have been realized. Sitting in the Roman arena in Verona with 20,000 other people as the opera is about to commence or surfing on the Australian East coast in beautiful warm waters are also treasured. Travelling by train across the southern alps in New Zealand or riding a bike with my daughter around the beautiful walled city of Lucca in Italy.

Not all flowed so easily  though like having no visa in Johannesburg for a flight to Australia. Losing my credit card on a hung over morning in Ko Samui in Thailand with 18 hours travelling ahead and no money at all to pay the exit tax from Thailand. Those experiences stay with you forever and become moments in your life that you can dip in and out of. They are the blueprints of a lived life.

If necessary you should sacrifice other things to ensure that travel becomes a large part of your life. It also allows you to experience life outside your comfort zone and this is where you grow.

As older people in Dr Karl Pillimer’s research the legacy project have said “Most people look back on their travel adventures as highlights of their lives, If you have to make decisions whether you want to remodel your kitchen or take a trip- well then take a trip.”

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