Geoff Olds

Entrepreneur. Writer. Helper. Thinker

Have M.A.P and Going Places.

This is a little blog on Meditation And Prayer. Or as I have realised; M.A.P

There is a very big difference in Meditation and Prayer. They seem similar and it is true they can blend well together. When you are in Prayer you can drift into Meditation. And when in Meditation you can slip nicely into Prayer. But they are very different.

One translation came to me years ago. Meditation is listening and Prayer is talking. That was a very interesting revelation because not long after that, i forgot how long it was but maybe a few months, a quote from the excellent Paulo Coelho came up. It was excellent! The same as my revelation. Funny how often the synchronicity of the university clicks in when you are observing quietly in the chaos that we call life and the world!

I love both exercise and for a good 4 years I have attempt to practice both, certainly in the morning upon waking up, but throughout the day and evening.

Prayer

You don’t have to be religious to pray. Far from it. I was “religious” for the most part of my life until my 30’s when my first layer of awakening hit me. After that, during a massive psychological personal traumatic battle, I began to consider myself spiritual or conscious. That’s when my prayers took a very different and mindful approach. Most people relate prayer as a religious act. And fair enough too. Prayers go up every second of every day across the planet to spirits, gods, people and many other forms. But what is the conscious centre of prayer?

Prayer, as one of my favourite definition is a “Earnest Hope or Wish”. There are other definitions such as expression of thanks, help or even a religious chorus in service or celebration of a god or a dogma. I like the thought of earnest hope or wish because for me, it is its truest form.

Now when I am sitting or kneeling in prayer there is no God for me. Oh there are many gods to worship and pray to. Sometimes my rogue nature pops out when people ask me if I believe in “God”. A slip of the tongue pops out “Which God?” I try to curtail that response because it is mischievous and people are very sensitive to these important matters.

But it is also true in the sense there are a LOT of Gods. Some religions have ONE. Others like my travels in Nepal and India have revealed have thousands! Some are even living and in the flesh. At first I was somewhat facetious in response, but then came to realise that I was born in a country (Australia) that worshipped living Gods everywhere. Commonly called sports stars and believe you me, Australia’s main religion is not Christrianity or something else; it is SPORT. And the Gods wrestle on the fields on the holy days of Saturday and Sunday, in great big churches where the passion and fervour of the mob chant and cry up seeking victory and release from the hell of loss. But that is another story and I digress. (Translate Church to Stadium)

The point is there are many Gods to earnestly hope or make wishes to. I love the latin connection to the word Prayer being Precarious. Yes! How often do we earnestly and desperately hope and wish to a God or a Higher Power when life is Precarious. When we are facing the darkest hours how often do we invoke God or making solemn requests for help.

For me, I don’t know a “God”. Joseph Campbell puts it best when he says “Those who say they know; don’t know and they who say they don’t know; know.” Its a beautiful phrase and I found an unbelievable metaphysical experience; when that revelation hit me. In fact, to this higher power I didn’t know, I immediately knelt in prayer in gratitude and hope.

And it’s been that way ever since.

So what are my prayers? Looking back five years, the prayers have turned from quiet desperation and pleas to gratitude and thankfulness. Mostly I am thankful in conversation with the higher power, or the source, for my beautiful kids and the lessons that have been learned. And for Love! And my wishes are for the health joy and wellbeing of my children so that they may suffer less than i have and learn love more than I have. I mean being a parent has to be one of the highest forms of miracles that can happen to someone. Especially someone so undeserving as myself.

This conversation is one way of course. (Selfish much?) But you know what it does for me? It’s like a conversation with a counsellor. You leave not hearing much, but somehow knowing more and feeling a hell of a lot lighter…. Sometimes we just need to talk. And a good chunk of that time we should not talk to anyone. It’s unleashing out of ourselves in such a beautiful way. Without burdening anyone else or affecting anyone else.

I’m sure you have OFTEN taken the grievous pain from a client or a friend into your soul or heart. And then what? Prayer is the answer. Let go of it and let go of the burden that pains you and hurts without passing it on.

Bury that seed in prayer and then watch the flower grow in your heart.

Meditation

What would I be without meditation? This would be asking me what would i be without my daughters. I couldn’t fathom a life without it. That ability that is a super power to let go of the nonstop stream of voices in my head (both mine and others) and let the beautiful consciousness resonate in peace and a centring manner. Could i go back. No. I couldn’t. Please.

Every morning and through the day the ability to sit, stand, walk and meditate is a glorious gift. It has given me peace beyond belief, improved my sleep, health, preventing further large steps of self destruction and given me a direction that is highest on high. In fact it is had me in such a state of bliss that no chemicals to date has matched and i’ve played with a few in my time.

They speak of it as levitating and lifting off the ground. Well its more than that for me. I have lost time, i have been out of my body observing myself, i have felt such a rush of power and also a rush of fading into nothing that has been incredibly.

To be truly empty. To be truly nothing for even a few seconds is astonishing.

You hear things you will never hear. You feel your spirit and energy like you have had before.

Imagine being unconscious and waking up after an incredible rest. This is meditation and it is available.

It is the best alarm clock.

And then there is the listening. Imagine standing in the middle of a crowd with everyone talking. Then add a nightclub environment with loud music. Then add another crowd - only this time they are shouting.

That is pretty much what my mind is like most of the time. (Frightening as that sounds even to myself; as i am typing I am looking around for the guys in white coats rushing out any minute now!)

Now imagine there was an important conversation to hear during that time. You just wouldn’t hear it. It would be like being almost blind and then trying to hit an arrow on a bullseye 20 metres away. It’s “blind” luck if you land even a few words of it.

The answer? Meditation.

The ability to fade out all of the signals that are going off and first have peace and being in the centre. Then the clear conversation comes. And with it is focus, direction, courage, love and energy.

A morning without meditation quite possibly turns a day into a bad day. The reverse is true.

Clear Mind. Clear Eyes.

M.A.P

With Meditation and Prayer we can go places! That’s the MAP of life. Prayer is the manifestation, love and hope to set our direction and unburden us. Meditation is the clarity, direction and focus.

So have M.A.P and go Places.

Wishing you all the very best in all things great and small.


MAP - 1.png


Forty Life Lessons @ 40

Turning 40 is no joke. When you live a certain lifestyle and have had the pleasure and pain of a high octane pathway; 40 is kind of the halfway mark. That’s if you make the assumption that 80 represents the flight off the planet. I’m not sure I will make it to that grand old age but here’s to giving it a red hot go!

I’ve been recording some profound (and perhaps not so profound) life lessons that have buried themselves into the grey matter and I try to execute on a daily basis.

Without any order here’s what I have noted down;

1) What matters is your mind, so put your mind on what matters.

2) You don’t get to choose your upbringing, so let go of all the perceived issues and be grateful for the lessons and love; little or large.

3) Balance. The ultimate struggle but the most worthwhile.

4) Sleep is your friend. A tired brain is a blunt instrument.

5) The meaning of life is a life of meaning.

6) If you don’t know your quest; your quest is to find your quest.

7) Accept life is largely suffering so good days are not the norm; they are GOOD days.

8) Health is wealth. Invest in it wisely.

9) Age comes with knowledge. Knowledge with power. Power with responsibility.

10) You wont attract the right person, until you are the right person.

11) Make friends with death. After all it’s coming either way.

12) You will break down then you will break through.

13) You must have Order but you also must have Chaos. Balancing it is critical.

14) There is intellect. But there is also something beyond intellect.

15) Everyone is a Work in Progress.

16) You can say the same thing with kind words.

17) The greatest gift is the present.

18) Mistakes will happen. Their lessons may not.

19) If we don’t bare our souls and its problems; then we become the sole bearers of our problems.

20) A great full life consists of a grateful life.

21) Mediocre is only bad, if you stay there.

22) Travel out side for sights. Travel inside for insights.

23) The ego works best as a servant.

24) The struggles of today are the strengths of tomorrow.

25) Passion really means something worth suffering for.

26) By your own vibe you will attract your own tribe.

27) Apply love to every situation and life will improve significantly.

28) Study yourself. Learn about yourself. Manage yourself. Love yourself.

29) Feel the storms. Don’t become the storms.

30) Be satisfied in your present. But don’t be satisfied with your future.

31) A purpose is best pursued through the gateway of values.

32) Read. Know. Grow.

33) Learn meditation. Calmness is a superpower.

34) Express yourself without fear. You have something to say.

35) In the greatest of darkness, the light shines the brightest.

36) Thoughts are not reality.

37) There are two truths, universal and personal. Both are valid.

38) Invest in what is eternal.

39) Children will always bring you back to the centre of your heart.

40) You can be old at any age. But the reverse also is true.

Lots to learn. I look forward, with optimism to the next 40.

The Miracle of Birth

What is about the birth of a baby that has everyone so excited and amazed (there are some horrible exceptions) ?

Let’s start with the downside. And I’m going to take a very soulless view here.

The mum has just gone through 9 months of uncomfortable and difficult times. Her body blows out. She vomits. She will tire frequently. There are financial pressures put on the family. Sex lives are affected and all sorts of fresh challenges are faced. Particularly if there are other children in the family and challenges. 

Then the birthing experience. Hours sometimes days of pain and suffering. The sort of pain and suffering that the staunchest of men could not handle. Just one look at some of the youtube videos and the science behind shows how really strong men are…

The stress, the anxiety, the late nights and then birth. Dignity is cast out the window. Pride is destroyed and the goddess, the sex object is transformed into a sweating, crazed, agonised glorified factory.

Then the baby arrives. 

It doesn’t arrive with rainbows. It doesn’t arrive clean and polished. It doesn’t land smelling of roses. It arrives as an alien, sticky, stinky howling mess. Its fury of being ejected from its house by the landlord is maddening to it. From the ultimately comfort zone to a cold hard white world with strange gigantic looming faces in a haze. I’ve woken up a few times like that with serious hangovers.

I’d cry too…

I’d cry too…

The first person to come near me is in mortal danger!

I mean thinking about it. You have spent the last 9 months in luxury. Absolute luxury. Perfect temperatures. All the sustenance in the world. You can stretch and grow. You can kick away if you wish. Slurp. Crap and wee whenever you want. And your room is alive. And you are 100pc connected with the goddess. No wonder we men are desirous of that sacred connection with women. For a brief fleeting moment we can become the God again. Completely vulnerable and completely loved and connected.

This god. The water god. Plugged in. Completely comfortable is sucked out of the vortex and out a narrow passage that really fucking hurts. It hurts the baby and its head. It hurts the mother. It even hurts the father. Let me explain. We love that sacred place where we enter and connect. And to see anything happening to it is very painful. Selfish. I know. Damn. Selfish. But true. (Maybe that’s why Dad’s were shooed away a long time ago so the sacred ritual could be witnessed by the feminine and the feminine alone)

Back to bubs. They are furious. And they howl. How will indiscriminate rage. For they have entered the cold hard world. They know it more than we know it.

And so the howling follows with an exhausted mother who, her first act, is to put the shrivelled stick raisin alien creature on her breast until the rage is comforted. Meanwhile coats shuffle around and fathers and family throb with anxiety and excitement, consciously and unconsciously not know what side is up and what side is down. The smiles on the faces are beaming with the glow of the sun. But underneath they know the shadow is cast at the same time. 

Responsibility. Anxiety. Vulnerability. And the list goes on.

Every sun casts a shadow. To every light there is a darkness.

And so that is one way of looking at the birth of a baby.

So why the unbridled joy? Why the magical impulse to produce? Why the requirement for a perfect couple to inject a little deity into their lives?

Here’s why I am writing this.

Universal love.

Universal love.

I was in Jakarta the other day. Business and pleasure. In that order (I think). And I wake up to the news of the birth of my niece Baby Octavia. What a way to wake up. The joy was intense. I had a smile on my face for a very long time after, which is not an easy thing to do for a neurotic adventurer like myself. What was this strange joy that pulsed through my body. It felt like. Love. Agape. Enlightenment. Spiritual Fire.


I hadn’t felt this for a long time. No, not since the birth of my own children.

What is it about the birth of a baby? It transcends getting high, getting successful, getting wasted, getting things, getting off and getting somewhere. 

Look you could easily say its biological and make that case. But that is tempered with the dark side as pointed out above. 

So there is something else. 

I had to go looking back to the old tales to find the answer. Why did the Magi seek out the birth of a child in the East? What was the marker that they followed? They followed the star in the sky and it lead them to the child. Then what did they do?

Look to the skies. Light in the darkness.

Look to the skies. Light in the darkness.

They gave gifts. They rejoiced and they left.

Why did they rejoice? Why did they fall down? Why did they spend all that time? Why did they offer the gifts?

What about the shepherds who in the night they had the same revelation about the birth. They went to see the baby and returned exceedingly joyful.

The birth of a child is a spiritual thing.

It is a miracle.

It is a metaphor for the salvation of ourselves. It is the continuing the lineage and the human species. The wise amongst us worship the babies for this reason. They are the future. Through them lies immortality and the core purpose of life. The wise men and the shepherds represent those who are aware of this. We look to the skies for enlightenment and direction. The shining light in the dark world guides us to the miracle birth and what happens.

We are reborn.

We are taking directly back to the moment of innocence.

You remember that scene in Children of Men with Clive Owen? What a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful scene! There is war and destruction and pain and carnage everywhere. Utter Chaos! But then. The baby is born. And the chaos stops. The fighting stops. The worst of humanity is put on pause. And it took the voice of a baby crying and they all Knew It!

Everyone stopped. Instinctively. What beauty, what an insight.

An Amazing Movie. An amazing scene.

An Amazing Movie. An amazing scene.

I love that Christmas Carol. The Little Drummer Boy. It brings me to tears every time.

Come they called. A new born king.

And the little drummer boy. What could he bring? He could bring nothing. But he could bring his drum. He could bring his heart. He could bring his truth. He could worship the baby with his best efforts. What was the reward? 

The baby smiled. The baby smiled!

That is the reward right there. 

Little Drummer Boy.

Little Drummer Boy.

What Joy!

The quickening happens within the mother. But the quickening happens in your soul if you are conscious. If you are open. If you are hearing the song of the universe. If you still believe in miracles and magic. If you wait that leap of faith. You will see the un-seen. You will know the un-knowable. You will hear the un-hearable. 

It’s there happening everywhere. Little bright lights to a Dark World.

One smile at a time.

 

Smiling Amongst Silence: The Deaf of Timor Leste

It's tough enough growing up in a developing country ravaged by war, poor governance and limited resources. Its even tougher when you are born or develop a disability. A disability as terrifying as not being able to hear.

I tell you what. On more than a few occasions I was moved to tears over the last 48 hours. You take a lot of things for granted. Hearing is one of them; for those of us with good hearing or even average hearing. It is just part of life right?

Well not for all. And boy did the universe give me a kick in the ass.

All smiles in the Sunshine

All smiles in the Sunshine

Imagine not hearing Aretha's soulful voice? Respect. Chain of Fools. Say a little prayer. (Bless you Aretha and rest in peace)

Imagine not waking up to the sound of the song bird?

Or the crying of your new born babe.

Or the sound you and your lover make when you are at that special time and that special place.

Or how about the sound of water as you sit still by the ocean grief stricken over the loss of a loved one?

My god. I'm welling up just now to think of what it is like to never hear those things. 

These insights and the deep well of gratitude was visited upon me because of good friend Tony Jong asked me to join him on a trip to meet the deaf and donate to the Agape School of Deaf in Timor Leste. I was honoured and of course, as soon as I heard the word Agape, I jumped at the chance to do something for those who, by no fault of their own, ended up on this planet in a tough part of this world without the ability to hear.

Pharmacy Packaging Leftovers make Colourful Handy Baskets

Pharmacy Packaging Leftovers make Colourful Handy Baskets

 

Stupidly on two occasions, i completely forgot that Tony was deaf, and told him I would wake him up by knocking on the door. The second idiotic moment happened on the plane when I gave him wise counsel to listen to some intellectual and spiritual podcasts to help with his mission in life. Dickhead!

We just take the ability to hear and for other peoples ability to hear as granted.

Now you think that if you weren't able to hear. That you would be miserable. You think if you didn't have money and things were tough. You would be miserable. Hmmm not so, not surprising on the economical front, as I have spent plenty of time in the developing world. But hearing - well surprisingly it was smiles amongst silence.

All the simple things like volleyball on the beach, doing arts and crafts, having pizza, showing people around brought out unbridled joy. The smiles were wider than the gap between the rich and the poor in this world.

The Symbol for "I Love You"

The Symbol for "I Love You"

 

Boy, what Joy. 

Timor Leste, is a beautiful place. The Timorese are a beautiful people.

The Deaf of Timor Leste are a beautiful group of people.

How can I explain the feeling. Let me try.

Honoured. Humbled. Shamed. Inspired. Grateful. Motivated.

Whatever this cocktail of bliss is; I'm smiling because of their Smiling amongst Silence.

Note - I am very thankful for Tony Jong for allowing me to accompany him on a special pilgrimage. I'm also thankful for his Cousin Nat for taking us around and of course the lovely Wennie and her family for their service to the community.

For more information you can visit the website - http://www.agapeschoolforthedeaf.com/

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Pondering the Pilgrimage

Pilgrim. Sounds antiquated, stale and heavily religious. It makes you think of weather beaten, stooped souls, miserable; trudging along a road to nowhere carrying heavy religious symbols around. It makes you think of thousands of souls bowing down in fervour to some mythology stone god. It makes you think of the pilgrims that sojourned to the New World.

None of the imagery, (maybe its just me) seems to equip itself with the modern world. I had to think about this for a very long time after reading multiple books referencing how going on a pilgrimage is very useful.

Nothing but Nature

Nothing but Nature

 

Now I am not "religious" but I am spiritual (or at least I am trying to be). So this thought very much intrigued me.

I remember it hitting me very clearly when I was devastated about having to leave my marriage and home. I read, prayed and meditated a lot, mixing in a lot of other chemicals and activities to numb the pain. But the thought of a long pilgrimage, symbolising an end to one life, and the beginning of another life; galvanised and inspired me.

In short, I left Sydney and walked to Canberra. There was some basic training before hand, but for me it was isolation of myself, a walk to a destination, raising awareness for charity, but most importantly sort out the demons in the head and be re-born.

333kms later.

333kms later.

 

I have read many definitions of Pilgrimage and Pilgrim. One that I feel is most true and the origin of the pilgrimage is the one that discusses "stepping out of ourselves that we may encounter the divine". Another way of putting this "to leave the present behind to resolve a matter of moral and spiritual direction." This is very true in my experience; the physical is only the symbol of the journey one is undertaking from within.

I remember watching The Way with Martin Sheen. Wow. Excellent movie; so impressive in the whole design and the shape of it all. I wont spoil it but it is set in France and Spain and based on the famous St James Walk or "Camino de Santiago". The point is the transformation that happens on the inside when you are out in the wild, away from comforts, habits and routines.

Very much worth watching - Martin Sheen - Tour de Force (pun intended)

Very much worth watching - Martin Sheen - Tour de Force (pun intended)

 

My favourite all time movie The Kingdom of Heaven, has a great symbolic message about the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Where one can go and atone for their "sins" and begin again. Is it relevant that it is a place in the middle east? Or a gathering of stones in a grassy land? Or an appointed place anywhere? For me; I think not. 

But any journey, symbolic of an inward journey, where one can off load the burdens of the past, find gratefulness, understand our place in harmony with nature, endeavour for something and come away with achievement; is a good journey. Whether this be Mecca, Jerusalem, The Stone Henge, Temples, Idols or Legoland. What is sacred is what is within.

The Maya is the meaning behind the illusion; not the illusion itself. (This is a whole new blog)

So why go on a pilgrimage?

  • Break your routine and pattern
  • Get the benefits of exercise
  • Spend time away from technology
  • Leave things behind
  • Build new goals
  • Appreciate nature
  • Accomplish something
  • Strengthen your spirituality

 

Into the Woods...

Into the Woods...

I have since, after walking 100km from Sydney to Wollongong, setup a pilgrimage, or a hike if you like, that I intend to do twice a year. Looking forward to doing it with some folk not only to raise money for the cause, in educating the poor in developing countries, but to help with people learning and letting go and questing forward to become better.

As I think of it; Charity, Therapy and Community.

Onwards, Inwards & Upwards.

 

Learning about Love (A lifelong quest)

Where is the Love, the Black Eyed Peas, often cry out on the radio. One of my favourite songs of all time. But it has also been a life long question for a lot of us.. What is the Love? Would make for a very different song I'm guessing...

It's a very very interesting subject. I was only prompted again recently, through heart break, depression and meditation to re-look at the word, concept, philosophy, the pure states; of Love.

What is this Love, that the world sings about so much?

Do you know how many songs reference love?

The Love is Right Here...

The Love is Right Here...

 

I don't know but I would hazard a guess doing some quick google searches that the biggest categories of songs are Love Song's in some way or shape... Of course this is just "romantic love", if we were to add the other Loves, it would dominate the list altogether. That right there is pretty significant I would suggest....

The Beatles sang "All You Need is Love. Love is all you Need". That probably sums it up nicely but this Holy Grail for Love isn't always that simplistic, especially when you don't know what you are looking for most of the time.

Purchase this T Shirt You Must.... All blogs should reference Yoda at some point...

Purchase this T Shirt You Must.... All blogs should reference Yoda at some point...

 

The Greeks talked about a number of Loves. Plato and Aristotle were rather helpful on this...(there's a whole two books there not just one blog!)

If you do a range of research in reading and with our old friend Google; often you will find this helpful list. (in no particular order)

  1. Eros - Sexual Love
  2. Philia - Friendship Love
  3. Storge - Familiar Love
  4. Agape - Universal Love
  5. Ludus - Playful or Uncommitted Love
  6. Pragma - Practical Love
  7. Philautia - Self Love
  8. Mania - Obsessive Love

(Note - the lists of love and definitions vary so, research away and enjoy :) )

So which love do we need? Or do we need them all?

Paul the Apostle, wrote to the Corinthians (not to be mistaken with those tasty wafers), and said Above all is Love. Above Faith and Hope. This is where I find the origins of Love (the word) very very interesting. In the NIV version of the bible it talks about Love. But the King James version speaks about the word "charity". This is very interesting indeed.

If you do your digging, the word charity is connected to the word Agape which is unconditional love, selfless love; in which the Greek's considered the Highest Form of Love.

Above All is Love
— Paul the Apostle

 

So perhaps, when we look at Love again, this form of Love, expression of Love, when re-considered as Agape or spiritual love, selfless love, unconditional love; then things start to make much more sense. 

In fact, I think there is what one might say a hierarchy, and the more we operate at the highest Love, the more joy and blissful our life can be become. The more control we have. The more life makes sense. The less attachment to things out of our control we end up with. (I think...)

I'm always reminded of that (that!) movie Love Actually. The pictures of people coming together at airports. And that famous line.... "All you need is; Love Actually". Very much a connection from the Beatles song but when you think about the selfless love element, and there are many cases of them in the film, if you think through it, the expression or argument makes more sense. (All you need is; Selfless, Unconditional, Spiritual Love...... Actually)

More than a Christmas Chick Flick, Actually.

More than a Christmas Chick Flick, Actually.

 

How about Plato? "Love is a serious mental illness" What love was he referring to? The obvious distinction is that romantic love between two people (slot in Mania there perhaps...?). We have all experience losing our minds to that attachment to another person both in the state of love but also in losing that love.

But perhaps if we refer to Agape. Then again it is clear that this Spiritual Love, Unconditional Love would also be breaking the mind, the body and the ego. I myself have experienced this.

And what better case can you refer to, than the mother giving birth to the child. This love is clearly beyond self. It breaks the mind and the body, so that life can come forth. The instinct of the parent is to sacrifice all for the child. Is this not then the definition of losing ones self and mind for the love of another?

Love is a serious mental illness.
— Plato

 

Jesus spoke of "Ye Must be Born Again". There are references everywhere in Buddhism, Hinduism and other scriptures of this death, that life must come forth. For this agape or unconditional love to come forth then first our self, mind, ego and body must come to an end.

To round out the Christian references in this blog (must be the affects of Easter..... damn those hot cross buns!!!), Jesus speaks of The Greatest Love being a Sacrificial Love (Greater love hath no man - John 15). Once again this Agape rears its beautiful head again.

Delicious Christian References in a Post Easter Blog.

Delicious Christian References in a Post Easter Blog.

 

And while I am feeling all religious, contrary to some areas of the world, the Quran has some wonderful thoughts on love. There seems to be (my amateurish understanding) a lot of references of love to one another and in giving love in this unselfish manner, you love ALL of Humanity. 

Now over Easter I had a supernatural, amazing, astonishing breakthrough on this subject which has given me great delight in writing in my clumsy way on this most important subject. I won't go into the very personal details except to say, in realisation of this Agape, the fog was lifted in a very intense manner. Then after that, like a blind man seeing for the first time, all the signs were there. (A genuine use of the OMG expression without any accompanying emojis.)

How's for a song to hit you randomly on the very next day? (Meaningful coincidence number 8 and counting) Higher Love by Steve Winwood. Check out the lyrics...

Bring me a Higher Love. Where’s that higher love that I keep thinking of?
— Steve Winwood & Will Jennings

 

Simon Critchley, the popular Philosopher, echoed this just yesterday on an episode of Under the Skin with Russell Brand. His proposition is that we are individuals and we can "contract" ourselves to others and that this is love is FALSE

True love, in his most profound and beautiful way, is all about removal of self and dismantling of the individual, so that we are CAPABLE of loving others.

In another way, Simon, puts it as stripping away the "husk" of self, so that we can become WORTHY of love. Wow. Now that's a beautiful expression. There is a beautiful summary here of this on youtube. Simon Critchley on Love.

Simon Says (And Nails it!) Take Self out of Love... #genius

Simon Says (And Nails it!) Take Self out of Love... #genius

 

I guess in many ways I have "As Simon Says" been unworthy of this Highest Love; but I'm working on it.... 

If ever there was a Quest for the Holy Grail then it has got to be Love, Actually.

Here's to the ongoing quest, climbing higher, letting go of those layers of self and being more worthy of what we all need.... Now where is the Love?

 

 

Dealing with Depression

Depression. It Sucks. And after dealing with a fresh batch myself and seeing some real horror stories, I kind of snapped (kinda). I made the impulsive decision to read 5 of the best books on the topic in 5 days and then write about my experiences and what fresh new things I have learned.

I also spoke to a number of folks who have had depression and some who were going through depression. All I can say that if I thought the last 9 weeks were tough. The last two were the toughest delving through this; with the "fog" hanging over heavily. AND HAVING SAID all of that, in my amateur research and desire for knowledge, I have come out of this with a strong gratitude; that my suffering is MILD compared to what some men and women have endured!

DISCLAIMER - the below is my view only and in the process of studying to become a better counsellor, I can only recommend that if you are reading these words and any of it resonates, see your GP and work with a professional. The dark ages of not dealing with depression are well and truly over. Mental health is fundamental.

There are two approaches to my recent activity or lets say two views. One was myself looking at myself as a mildly depressed individual and telling that story as best as I can. The second was looking at other depressed people and hearing the stories to the end that I may (and hopefully others) will be more helpful, less harmful and certainly not judgemental to any of our fellow beautiful humans.

It's a harrowing, horrifying, energy draining experience.

It's a harrowing, horrifying, energy draining experience.

 

Me, Myself and Depression.

Even now I have a sense of discomfort writing about my experience with depression. I wonder why that is. Shame? Embarrassment? I'm guessing like a lot of people, this is one of the hard subjects to confront and be open about. I mean it is one of those invisible issues to deal with right? Much better to have a broken leg or some visible problem so people can see, understand and be kind. As soon as it is not visible, it becomes almost taboo! Thank heavens we are tearing down those shabby silly barriers and dealing with things as a society, as a race and as a community.

The first thing my reading, meditation, interviews and research has told me is that; depression is not something you can easily label and describe. The Noonday Demon by Andrew Solomon, has some very very graphic tales about depression and how it affects different people. If you have a mild interest in this subject I strongly recommend you read this Tome. (And it is a tome, aptly named the Atlas of Depression). All I can say is depression comes in many different flavours and I am absolutely not comfortable in trying to label it. For example here are a bunch of flavours, categories, types if you will;

  • Depression where one cannot get out of bed or function in typical human fashion
  • Depression where one's mind is turned to thinking suicidal or self harm thoughts
  • Depression where one's energy levels are "blue" constantly and it is hard to be positive
  • Depression where one is tired and lethargic and "normal" activities feel draining

There are many many more "labels" or combinations of the above. All I can say is depression is more than feeling a little down or sad. It's an insidious state that affects people in different ways and ultimately we as fellow humans, must have compassion and care for folks who are dealing with "the fog".

IMPORTANTLY - i am no professor or expert on this stuff, but I can clearly see two distinctions; "wiring" problems and likely "non-wiring" problems. Its poor terminology I know but let me explain. There are those folk who have a chemical in-balance that needs to be treated with medication (wiring) and there are folks who suffer from it due to grief, trauma, abuse and other sustained mental injuries. Having read a lot in less than a week, all I can conclude is that there is no cure-all, there is no claim to drug free resolutions or any medicine that will fix this matter. So any judgement on someone taking medicine or not taking medicine should be hastily discarded. And with the greatest of love and respect to beautiful religious or spiritual people; my reading (and personal experience) has shown clearly that mental health issues may be helped by doctrine or discipline, but there are no "Hail Mary" moments as a general rule. (everyone is unique just like everyone else).

It seems very odd and strange to me in simplistic reflection that "someone" like me would have endure at least 4 batches of this mystical dark fog that leaves you bereft of spirit and dragging your heels. For me depression has always been linked to a common theme. This theme is death or the ending of something. The first time I was aware of something wrong it was in the teenage years and again early adulthood. I was brought low for a number of weeks with minimal explanation. But in hindsight it was the death of innocence and the beginning of responsibility, direction, purpose and meaning. I still remember those existential crisis moments. All of a sudden you were not told what to do, where to go, what rules should be obeyed and 1 leads to 2 and so on. You had to figure things out yourself!

Death of Innocence. Or now I can accurately say; Birth of Purpose. But for me it was of a case of saying who cares. I am insignificant. What is this God thing anyway? Why the hell should I try - for a mortgage, a "normal life", a car, a pension and then to die as a withered human being, unable to contain my waste or live (and die) as a dignified human being. Talk about depressing!

And that is a very interesting point that David Burns makes in Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. We can talk ourselves into deeper and deeper depression. I liken it to spiralling down (and conversely) spiralling up when the opposite is applied. 

It was interesting because this cloud was lifted by the eventual movement of time and the mind shifted to a life of achievements. Doing stuff. Getting Married. Chasing Goals. Building Wealth. And all of the doing things. But funnily enough because I didn't (probably better to say I couldn't,  if I am more realistic) settle this issue of meaning, it compounded more than a decade later.

Depression Cloud Event #2 was the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse charged down at me with great gusto and all hell broke loose. After successfully creating, helping create and acquiring 3 companies, plus the house, the car, the children, the cash (etc etc) I had crash landed at the end of the rainbow and as Joseph Campbell puts it "middle age is climbing a ladder up a wall and getting to the top only to realise it is the wrong wall." (at 33 i was claiming mid life; hopefully I was wrong)

And at the end of the rainbow there is no gold. Only Fool's Gold, that you hold in your hands and watch melt; as your tears come raining down in the midst of the cloud.

All that was built evaporated in front of me as I lost it all. Or rather in truth; left it all.

The eyes grow dull, there is grey everywhere.

The eyes grow dull, there is grey everywhere.

 

From that point on for the next two years, I didn't live at all. I survived. Suicidal thoughts were real and present. Lack of sleep. Drugs and alcohol. I was alive but absent. Dark and terrible times. And when I write this my heart goes out to my family and friends who stuck around to deal with the irrational and self destructive person. The truth was I went through a Death and a Birth. It was an awakening for me, or rather an awakening of me. And I would do it all again (if I could save the harm and hurt on others). And this is the interesting part. How can you look back and see a horror of a time and not regret it. Because death becomes birth. (Symbolically the same reasons mothers have a second child...)

So an insight for me is this. IN MY CASE, depression stopped me in my tracks and made me think, raise my consciousness, craft out a new way, find meaning and burst forth with joy to become a better father, friend, community member, spirit, brother, counsellor, businessman and all the other hats that are worn.

Before light, there is dark.

Perhaps some of us need to be crushed to pieces so that all is left is diamonds?

Depression Events 3 and 4 (four is the current cloud floating around at the moment) are linked. And the link is simply this. Heart break. Again the theme of grief and death are on the scenes again. All those who have suffered depression through the loss of a loved one (partner or otherwise) has my empathy, sympathy and great love. It is horrible!!

In the first instance, as I was crafting a new life going forward and beginning to awaken, I failed my girlfriend of two years (I was a very complex and challenging person - worse than I am now) and she moved on. Of course the first serious relationship after a marriage is filled with baggage and after the fog lifted, I became very very grateful for all that she did for me and the lessons I learnt.

That depression was shocking, swift and difficult to deal with. Again sleep went out the door, appetite plummeted and all of a sudden the old escape routes appeared and were taken. However the beauty of wisdom (acting on knowledge) that comes with time, as an awakened and conscious person; you become very aware of your behaviour and swiftly stop. You start suffering legitimately for the loss and the depression is slowly lifted as you go through the grieving process mindfully and with acceptance.

Neurosis is a substitute for legitimate suffering
— Carl Jung

 

The current bout is being dealt with very differently. I am grieving a loving and ultimately lost relationship. Which happens in life. I love Scott Pecks' book A Road Less Travelled. He talks about 4 tools that are very very very powerful in dealing with depression and these big life challenges. 

  1. Delaying of Gratification
  2. Acceptance of Responsibility
  3. Commitment to Truth
  4. Balance

I wont go into the detail but suffice to say these line up very close to my strengthened value set and how I have handled things much better in this situation. It hasn't stopped the cloud hanging over me and I am lucky to get 5 hours sleep most nights, my appetite has disappeared and I feel moments of sheer grief and sadness. However the following has applied to me and I do feel a sense of joy amongst the grief - it reads something like this -

1. Instead of applying the usual escapisms, I have spent time being alone, sad and have pushed myself to do good things; more training, more reading, more helping etc. RESULT - the grief and pain is digested quicker and the fog doesn't seem so deep and dark.

2. Instead of coming up with rational stories and spinning things to BLAME others and especially the loved one (BLAME = B LAME), I have accepted my faults, flaws and failings. By accepting responsibility, there is a glaring and obvious obligation to apologise and be a better person. RESULT - Instead of convincing yourself and maybe others, of your innocence, you respectfully don't create a mess and screw up mostly good memories and times, learn your lesson, heal and learn quicker.

3. This is an easy one that helps lift the fog quicker and lightens the load. Truth is to be sought out. Now there is a lot of psychology and philosophy about "truth" but in the end, deep down, you know the truth. Its not always easy to get there but if you are committed you will find it. And truth ultimately never hurts, it heals.  RESULT - It may be bittersweet but when you are committed to honesty and truthfulness even in times of failure, you will see things how they are NOT how you want things to be seen or HOW OTHERS want things to be seen. This is where the Happiness Trap by Craig Russ is so powerful.  Mindfulness and ACT allows you to see like you have never seen before.

4. And as with all things in life balance needs to come on the scene. One of the most balanced things you can do in the state of depression is aware you are depressed and go with it rather than fighting it. Accept the winter time that has come and seek out the answers and direction to come through it in the best shape possible with the least amount of collateral damage to others. In this state I have tried to balance the lack of sleep off with exercise, the lack of appetite with nourishing snacks and smoothies and the negative thoughts with meditation and mindfulness. Of course professional counselling is brilliant. Sometimes we need someone to tell us what we "know" and call us out on our spiralling downwards into self pity and spin. RESULT - Depression is crap but if we are aware of the leaning in one direction (lets call it the sustained pull of negativity) we can then balance it out by doing and acting in a positive manner. So weirdly enough being positive in a state of negativity. 

Balance - Not easy but a lifetime goal worth pursuing.

Balance - Not easy but a lifetime goal worth pursuing.

 

These are four excellent tools at our disposal that apply to all challenging events. I would add some practical tips that have worked for me in the fog -

  1. Get Help. Professional Help.
  2. Try to recognise it as "Winter" and go through it. Don't fight it as long as you are doing #1
  3. Try to exercise even if it is just a walk or light exercise. 20 minutes is known to stimulate the brain in a very positive way.
  4. Meditate and be mindful. Observe your thoughts and feelings and call them out as just thoughts or feelings rather than "truths". Our minds can lead us all over the place!
  5. Remind yourself daily, of everything that you are grateful for. Write them down.
  6. Ask yourself what you are learning or have learnt. How can you use this to be better.
  7. Get Help. Professional Help.
  8. Remember you are not an island. You are connected to your community and your fellow humans. You are not the only person in this dismal wasteland. (I have sat on the 42nd floor with my legs over the balcony, ready to jump. Thats a pretty horrifying admission.) You are not alone. You can get through this.
  9. Read. It may feel challenging. But when you read accounts from others, you will understand that you will survive and thrive again.
  10. Cry. Yes Cry. Whenever it happens. Let those tears out. 
  11. Get to the Bottom of It. At the bottom of this vine that is choking your tree of life (brilliant analogy by Andrew Solomon), there is one or maybe more roots of the "beginning". What is ultimately driving this. There might be a superficial and obvious reason. Someone. Something. But many times there are multiple, multiple unsolved questions and issues; that the vine feeds on to keep choking away.
  12. Remember sadness is legitimate. Its normal to grieve.
  13. When you are not Crying; Laugh. Laughter is a great medicine as they say. 
  14. Draw on your own experience. Remember when you were a child or teenager or young adult. There were horrible challenges then BUT you made it through.
  15. Turn To Art. Whether it be writing, drawing, photography or something else. Turn to art. And you will find your emotions take motion.
  16. Get Help. Get Professional Help.

Read the Mindful Way Through Depression this is very powerful and practical.

Dealing with Depression in Others.

Ok let me say this first up. I feel I have been a failure to others in depression. Perhaps I have helped some and failed others. The point is part of this research and development has been recognising my inadequacies in helping others through something I have gone through quite deeply. Maybe in sharing and being open about this, I can do more help than harm.

And while I am at it. I can say that after reading these tomes of wisdom and through my experience, I feel I have a lot more to learn. And again the best bet is professional help. I can't repeat that often enough.

In order to write about others and how perhaps we can help, not only did I read on these matters, I went and spoke to a number of people about their depression episodes and their views on things.

There is general agreement that there are two types as mentioned above. Those with genetical, medical or chronic depression that need medical help to stabilise the systems. When folks need pills, that is ok. Some require them permanently to get by. Others for a period of time to get through the hump. Either way just like any other illness, it can be treated and "life goes on". There is no stigma or judgement to be had here. I take supplements to deal with vitamin deficiencies from time to time. Just like cold and flu tablets and other meds when things crop up. There is no difference.

Whether meds are involved or not our fellow humans need compassion and care. If you know or suspect someone has depression (My findings from interviews and reading) the following may be helpful -

  • Always recommend professional help
  • Autonomous support is required
  • Do not try and "resolve or fix" them
  • Sometimes its best to not try and understand (especially if the person doesnt understand)
  • Apply love and compassion
  • Remember depression is often an endurance race not a sprint
  • For chronic depression and people who are at risk, round the clock support is required
  • Understand self harm is the person transferring from emotional pain to real pain as it is easier to deal with
  • Always recommend professional help
  • Remember depression often requires support not resolutions
  • Read up and get knowledgeable
  • Be aware of services like Life Line and Beyond Blue

Some of things folks have told me, are as follows, that may be helpful -

  • "I just needed time and to know that someone was nearby"
  • "I had to change my medicine from time to time as it stopped working"
  • "I treated my family badly whilst I was depressed and I am ashamed of that"
  • "I couldn't stop drinking"
  • "I need to be on anti depressants"
  • "I did have suicidal thoughts from time to time"
  • "There's no point or purpose"
  • "I don't know what I should be doing"
  • "I acted out in strange behaviours that even I was repulsed at"
  • "I couldn't get out of bed in the morning"
  • "Nothing tasted good anymore"

Most people who have suffered depression always valued and built closer relationships with friends and family who did NOT -

  1. Judge them
  2. Give up on them
  3. Try and resolve things
  4. Smothered them
  5. Take offence 

It's hard being friends or family with someone with depression. I know it from both sides. All we can do is apply love, compassion and stand watch, whilst that thick black fog hangs around. It is hard when we love someone and when desperately want to help or heal them. But we cannot control the external. We can control the internal. (That is the challenge and not always won)

These are the haunting words that I hear from time to time from the Birds of Tokyo. "Anchor"

I never thought to hold you
I never thought that you might need an anchor
I never thought I'd lose you
I never thought that you might need an anchor

I hope that in the future; I can be a better Night Watchman. Whilst my fellow human is in pain and suffering from the deadly dark depression. I hope they can look up, and through tears, see another kind passive face, standing there ready to help; with compassion and love.

Stand watch, with love and compassion.

Stand watch, with love and compassion.

 

** PLEASE ** If you are suffering from depression or other mental health issues, please reach out for professional help. You can start by seeing your GP or if it is an emergency; call emergency services. Life Line is a beautiful service ready for you. The number is 13 11 14 in Australia. Remember you are worth it. No matter how bad things are; there is always a way forward.

** THANK YOU ** To those kind folk who shared their experiences, thoughts, fears and stories with me. Its with love for all we can make this world a better place. And its a beautiful thought to know the NightWatch is everywhere.

** APOLOGIES ** To all who feel I have missed anything or not made succinct points.

The Books Read (All recommended)

  1. The Happiness Trap by Dr Craig Russ
  2. The Noonday Demon by Andrew Solomon
  3. The Mindful Way through Depression by Authors Williams, Teasdale, Segal & Kabat-Zinn
  4. The Road Less Traveled by Dr Scott Peck
  5. Feeling Good - The New Mood Therapy By David D Burns

 

The Vice of Too Much (and wrong) Advice

We've all done it. At some stage of our age we end up with the good old fashioned Analysis Paralysis. Its that feeling of being in a mental piazza, with signs pointing every way, and you have no clue as to which way you should go. There are a million choices. The knots in your stomach tighten up, the mouth goes dry, the pressure comes on and it feels like your head is going to implode with all the voices of reason.

One says stop.

Another says go.

Again a voice says turn around.

And on and on it goes. It's the Vice of Too Much Advice.

Make the voices stop. (Just disconnect mate)

Make the voices stop. (Just disconnect mate)

 

Someone once said to me that "I don't listen to anyone because I know all the answers." I must say I was outraged and wanted to deck this person. It was so out of character. This man was experienced, well read, a high level of education, successful and not arrogant. This was a response to my discussion over recommended books and views on matters.

And then I got it. He gave me that look and a smile. The lightbulb went on. The point was, it wasn't that he didn't listen to anyone, or read books, attend lectures, educate himself. Its just that he knew the real answers came from within. 

At hard moments of our life, we seek answers. (Rightly so) The problem is; often we go looking for them in the wrong place. #guiltyhere

Which door do we go through? Or do we stay in the hall?

Which door do we go through? Or do we stay in the hall?

 

Hard times compounds the issue of getting your actions, mind and decisions right. Normally you are frustrated, stressed, anxious, tired, drained and in just about every other challenging state. The fog is upon you. Hardly a time to be seeing clearly. Or asking questions. 

Mostly because we ask the wrong sources and certainly, almost certainly, we ask the wrong questions.

A great mental image is a man wandering around blind drunk, trying to get home, in the wrong city, barely conscious and heading in the wrong direction (a story for another time).

The first part is stopping and sitting and being still. I have always loved the story of the wise man who climbed the mountain to find God (presumably for peace and answers). At first there was thunder, then there was lightning, the earthquakes and lots of other dramatic events. And each time there was no God.

But at the end there was a still small voice. And that was God.

Now forget the religion. The learning (if you see behind the words) is that connection with the higher power and clarity does not come in all of the violent, noise and action. It comes from sitting still and allowing the fog to clear, to allow everything to play out and then in the centre of it all (maybe the eye of the storm) there is peace and quiet. And then the answer comes.

Meditation is good. Answers comes from within. (Robes are not required)

Meditation is good. Answers comes from within. (Robes are not required)

 

The problem is (especially with men) that when there is an issue or challenging decision ahead; we want action, we want to do the right thing, we want to fix everything and get on with life. 

So we get out there and seek advice. This is where our Vice can be too much (and wrong) advice. The more we seek out a simple answer or the obvious choice, the more we get voices talking all over the place. Everyone has an opinion based on their own experience and learnings, but importantly not based on your experience or learnings. This is the beauty of life; we are all unique just like everyone else. But no one has walked in your boots, has your personality, feels your trauma, understands your pain, been nurtured like you have or has had nature impose its lessons on you.

Sometimes we are not looking for answers or opinions. We are looking for someone just to give us support. And we don't receive it, we are disappointed and the advice is lost irregardless.

The wrong advice, even if meant well, is also dangerous. I always remember the character from Lord of the Rings; Wormtongue. He whispered in the Kings Ear, and the more advice he gave; the more the King withered away and sunk into a state of despair. Be careful who you listen to.

Everyone has an agenda. This is not a negative statement it is a neutral statement. And when I heard this for the first time from a wise woman who was a senior executive. I was in a state of shock. I was busy protesting a potential decision because it was clearly wrong (more than my opinion), my words were; they have an agenda. I'll never forget, how small I felt, when she turned to me in a packed boardroom, with those piercing eyes, and said to me "Everyone has an agenda."

Jeez talk about embarrassment but that was nothing compared to the amazing lesson I received from this lady. (I still remind her sometimes)

The point is everyone has an agenda. So be mindful of this when seeking advice. A lot of people speak without even realising the agenda that they are pushing.  I'm not suggesting everyone is trying to manipulate you; its just a natural fact that everyone is driven and motivated by forces unseen. A lot of time these forces are not the right ones to drive you in the right direction for your own pathway...

This is why the best folk to speak whether it be personal or commercial; is to a certified professional. They have a professional standard and are being remunerated to help you find the answers that are deep within you (not within themselves). They show you a mirror and slowly you navigate your way through and the answers present themselves when you ask the right questions and are ready to hear them.

This of course doesn't stop you having a chat to others, especially experienced individuals that are genuine souls and have walked the road.

But at the end of the day, you are the one. You are the captain of your ship. It is your call, your decision, your approach. You know yourself best. Give yourself time and then whatever you decide go for it with all your heart and soul. You will either make progress through a wrong call or make progress because you got it right. Either way you win and importantly you live your life attached to your highest values not because you are following someone else's highest values.+

You are the Captain of Your Ship

 

A mistake is a mis take. So take 2. Or take 3. Or take 4. Give it your best shot and keep at it until its a wrap. Life is way too short to be locked away try to get something right surrounded by a million voices; sit still, then go for it.

Some final thoughts -

  • When chatting about something ask yourself; are you asking for advice or just support. Be honest with yourself.
  • Seek the answers within
  • Work with professionals
  • Too much Advice is a Vice
  • Everyone has an agenda
  • Remember it takes time 
  • Reading subject material is very helpful - as it is your eyes and your translation
  • In the end it's just you; you will be damned either way; But at least it is your call

Onwards, inwards and upwards.

PS The most rambling blog ever for me. But there might be a gem or two for you. Namaste.

 

 

Counsellor Calling! I Need Help. (And other late night confessions)

I Need Help. That's the bravest words spoken to me in the last 24 hours from a man who is a friend and someone who has been wearing a brave face for too long. Secretly he was dying. Dying on the inside. Driven mad by the quicksand. Slowly sinking. And everything he was trying, was screwing him down deeper.

We held each other and shed tears together.

Two grown men, both years of training in martial arts, successful in business, with families and outwardly doing good for the community, and blubbering like babies.

I felt tears fall for two reasons.

One I uttered those 3 words five years ago. They were simple words. I Need Help.

The second, not just two hours ago I was speaking with my counsellor who, coerced me, challenged me, beat me and broke open my stubborn mind to make me realise how much of a blind, stubborn, proud, selfish person I had been.

When were we taught not to cry and why.... 

When were we taught not to cry and why.... 

 

You see, men clearly are idiots. I hope my mother wont mind me saying this, but we have a tendency to fuck things up! Quite royally too, in grand proportions. It seems to happen mostly to middle age men but I am hearing young guys are dorks and there is no fool like an old fool. (I hear something about this thing called Wisdom)

And all the time we are doing exactly what we shouldn't be doing. Being proud. Being insensitive. Boozing ourselves away. Taking mind numbing drugs. Acting like dickheads.

Sure we are smart. Sure we can build strange devices like Da Vinci. Fire space cars into big brilliant rockets like Musk. We can solve impossible riddles (women can do it better i bet) and there are many more. Lets throw the usual names in; Einstein, Pavarotti, Freud, Jobs, Churchill, Gandhi and so on.

Stoic men slowly dying inside but hey nice suits.

Stoic men slowly dying inside but hey nice suits.

 

But perhaps if aliens were observing (lets talk about that later), they would say how the hell have these dumbasses managed to stay alive. I guess that's when they see the women and go... Ahhhh''

Now don't get me wrong women can be incredibly odd and unusual, weird, bizarre, utterly mad and dumb as drill bits too. But it strikes me they have something over us with dangly bits.

They talk. They have emotions. They get help. Its ok for them to talk about their problems, feel their emotions, complain about their goat herding husbands and then still love them.

Can you imagine if Hitler had a mental health care plan and a few visits with Jung? Perhaps we wouldn't have had some of the most insidious acts cast upon the earth?

What about if the Unabomber just had a damn good cry and a few more hugs?

I'm pretty sure Tyson would have belted a few less people if he had a good cuppa, read some Joseph Campbell and held a few more hands.

How about we get over this male and female shite. I agree to a degree with Men Martian and Woman Venusian book. There are very obvious differences and they should be rejoiced in, except for us idiots who don't talk, don't hug, don't touch, don't talk, don't sit down with a practiced professional to talk out things.

Nothing like a good old chat and getting stuff off your chest...

Nothing like a good old chat and getting stuff off your chest...

 

Now I condemn myself as well. As a male, I have been called the Prince of Darkness once before, because of my capacity to find all manner of fun and numbing things to lead hordes of cavemen into dark escapism. 

I should have said those three words sooner. I Need Help.

You see it is blindingly easy. Your mind is what matters. It is the beginning of everything and everything is created once in your mind before it is created in the world. So if things suck up there. They start to suck out there. So if the ole' brain is broke, then get some brain work done.

But somewhere in the future, someone said, screw this stuff, lets not worry about it, lets just go and drink this nice stuff and maybe spear a few people over there for the helluva it.

Or perhaps Arak (or some other appropriate name) once said to his mate, "i sad, i sad; I miss mama." And maybe if his mate gave him a hug and talked it out, Arak would've been a nicer man and not decided to burn down the nearby village.

What the hell is so wrong with saying I Need Help. When the computer is broke, you go and get a computer guy with those glasses and they fix it. If your roof is broken you get the roof dude. If your country is broken you get a leader to fix it (aww crap that example didn't work did it! - I've been trumped). But you get what i mean. Problem = Fix.

So our mind gets screwed up over death, broken hearts, lost little ones, sad days, lost mementos, worrying about after life, and so much much more. Mind Screwed = Fix.

Now let me give you a beautiful anecdote. I spoke to someone recently which I knew for such a little while. Such a beautiful person who I knew for only 24 hours. But my god what a beautiful broken angel. I spoke to her for a few hours and she was clearly suffering. When I suggested therapy and counselling, she said we don't do counselling. Its not a done thing. WTF?

Broken hearts and brains? Sorry we cant fix that. 

Roads we can. Pipes. Complex medical procedures. Can Do. Transfer of crypto currencies. You bet! New boobs and noses. Definitely.

But professional help for the head space. Total Ban

Now look, there are religious people out there who suggest we confide in God and so forth. Don't get me wrong I have a close relationship with the Higher Power and we speak most days, although I try to listen more these days. I don't want to go down this track but for ....'s sake, what's wrong with someone who knows about the mind (and heart) being able to help.

I see spirit and mind separate and together but separate but together. Now work that out and i'll say yay, but let me say one thing right now. One feeds the other and so on.

This subject requires a whole blog and perhaps I have strayed.

Let's get back to it. I Need Help.

I loved Russell Brand's Freedom from Addictions which I just read. Amazing, Amazing, Amazing. Russell is certifiable along with a bunch of others but you read his account in this book and you think; My God! He said those three words; I Need Help.

He installed a program or rather updated his current program and wow; he's smashing it. 

Modern Day Jesus (Kinda) - Just Read his Book on Addictions!

Modern Day Jesus (Kinda) - Just Read his Book on Addictions!

 

Oh and he is maintaining the program as well. All part of the I Need Help. You always Need Help; some more than others. Sometimes more than others.

Ok, I have dragged on enough.

Men. Please. Listen. Cry. Hug. Hold On. Read. Listen. Talk to a wise old fella.

And say I Need Help.

Go see that Counsellor, the Psychologist, the whomever. Make sure they know what they are on about and get recommendations. Fix the brain like you would that leaking engine or the dodgy antenna on the roof. Get Help.

Now to put a bit of context on it. Firstly I am an idiot that seems to keep screwing things up. But funnily enough I keep learning. But I can tell you from the verge of jumping of a building to saying those words. I Need Help. Things are getting better. Strangely enough I feel better when I cry. (Apparently it is pain leaving the body - funny that). I hug. Sometimes even trees and they don't even bark at me. (Mandatory pun and "dad joke" for my two little ones). 

I have mentors. I have a Counsellor who likes to tell me I am a bullshit artist. 

By the way, the worst lies we tell, are the ones we tell and believe ourselves.

You see us Men are biological designed to lie. We are designed to puff ourselves up to ward away the dangerous animals, and we are design to preen ourselves to attract mates. We are born liars. Thats if we stick to the old ("I am close to an animal than an angel") but if we say I Need Help we can become more honest especially with ourselves and our loved ones.

You see my counsellor calls out my nonsense because it comes to me in a way that is subconscious and intensely instinctive. Apparently we have this self justification kit built into our program so we always have a reason at hand; for acting like an asshole. Oh and we are good at blaming others, apparently it makes us feel good (for awhile at least) and then we end up crying into our beers and mumbling about someone who screwed us over; with a guy named Al who is more interesting in the football game at hand.

The brain breaks down. Get it fixed. Then maybe even upgrade it. Then maybe even install anti virus and security systems. (That's me talking from my 20 years IT experience and saying I Need Help)

** Disclaimer; In my spare time I am studying to be a part time volunteer counsellor because part of my purpose is to help others. You see my message from the universe 3 years ago threw in a second instruction I Need (to) Help (others)

*** Highly Recommended reading by all Men - The Way of the Superior Man - Oh My Sweet Heavens. Top of the Tops. Thank you to Jesper and Melissa for the recommendation and changing my life. Graetful

The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida

Japan: A Must Visit!

Its been a little while since I was in Japan but the thrill lives on. I can say, having traveled a little, this is a must place to visit.

Despite friends, colleagues and family visiting the Land of the Rising Sun and raving about how good it was, it took me some time to make it over there. Strangely enough I am not even sure why it took so long, especially after buzzing into Asian on many occasions. I guess things happen at the right time and as they say better late than never.

On this occasion I was lucky enough to travel with my lovely partner for her 30th birthday and by default I had a seasoned guide who had spent multiple trips in this mystical and marvelous country.

Downtown Japan

Downtown Japan

Where does one start when describing this beautiful country and all it has to offer? Perhaps at the beginning.

The People.

The first thing I noticed when touching down in Tokyo, is how polite and respectful the Japanese are. The country (well Tokyo to start with...) is busy and packed full with all sorts of people from the well dressed business folk to the radically and colorfully dressed bohemian artists. You could forgive them for being abrupt and annoyed with the "plague" of tourists and international travelers. Our experience whether it be with the folks on the street or the customer service officers was one of kindness, patience and care. 

I could cite many other experiences around the world where you felt unwelcome and brushed off but in the spirit of being upbeat I will leave that off for now except to say it was a stark contrast to previous trips in other places... When you are venturing into new places it is always such a relief to get guidance and sound advice so you don't spend your adventures feeling stressed and anxious especially with deadlines to meet.

One of the highlights was heading into a bar in the business direct (superbly named Mr Goodbar) and having such good companionship with the owner and the staff who were polite and interested in a couple of Aussies abroad. We talked about all things with great humour and interest that time just flew and we had to come back for a return visit.

I could bang on about the wonderful Japanese, as there are plenty of examples to cite however in brief; the hotel staff were always excellent and were a lesson in service and humility, the folk handling the logistics were always kind and patient and finally the service at restaurants was just unreal.

Its moments like these.

Its moments like these.

 

The Food.

I'm no foodie, far from it. But even just thinking about the food back in Japan makes my stomach go up a gear and mouth water. Having had Japanese before and being mildly pleased, this was a culinary shock. My beloved, who has a black belt in all things food, took me to some places that has set me up for life for a diet of Japanese food, whether it be the Sushimi, the Pork, Ramen, Sushi and so much more.

There hasn't been a week go past, where I don't (with a mouthful of sushi) remember fondly all the places, the flavors and the feeling of eating healthy. A huge change from the ho-hum task of sustaining one's self a few times a day!

Note - let me not get into the discussion of Plum Wine, Asahi Black or the Sultry Whiskeys. I may be still here tomorrow typing away.

The Places.

Granted we didn't have a huge amount of time to visit all the different islands and places in Japan (we are saving that up for 18,19 and beyond); Tokyo, Kyoto and surrounds were incredible. Even the inclement weather did nothing to stop the appreciation and enjoyment of the sights to see, the feelings to be had and the sheer harmony of civilization co-joined with nature.

From the serenity of shrines, to the bustle of business. From the madness of manga, to the killer karaoke houses. The contrast was incredible but the joy palatable. There is simply something for everyone, a moment for every mood and a destination for every day. I still shake my head in wonder when I think about what we got up to in such a short time. There is enough content in less than a week to make for a great novel or movie. (If you get a chance watch Lost in Translation featuring the excellent Bill Murray... or watch it again)

One must do thing in Japan is the Onsen. Wow. After days of traipsing around on little sleep, a "few drinks", a lot of eating; this is the perfect place to recharge and spend time in meditation and reflection. We disappeared for half a day but returned (on the delightful train service called the "Romance Car") recharged and feeling like 10 years had peeled off our backs. #mustdo

The Golden Shrine at Kinkakujicho

The Golden Shrine at Kinkakujicho

 

The Culture.

Now I cant go in to detail here because I feel like A) I know nothing B) I scratched just a little of the surface C) So many others have a great grip on it....

But I can confess this; there is a wonderful culture of respect and harmony in Japan. Now don't get me wrong all cultures come with downsides and their critics but from my view I loved the harmony between business and living, spirit and nature, respect and fun, male and female, honor and duty. Respectfully I recognize I only saw the naive angle from a traveler visiting for such a short time but it really resonated with me.

From Bushido to the Shinto and much more I felt a great spirit within the lands. I can't quite put my finger on what seems wonderful magical and mystical except to say go and visit. Sit amongst the leafy trees in Kyoto and reflect on where architecture intersects with nature. There is something that reaches out and touches you in this digital age. There is a feeling that somehow there is a great connection with mother earth and the art form of mankind.

All I can say is I can't wait to go back. I'll sit on a wooden stool with my chopsticks awaiting, I'll lay in the hot mineral waters pondering, I'll laugh at the color in Shinjuku and rest in the comfort of the bullet trains. Japan is not just for the Japanese, it is for humanity.

Snippets..

  • Robot Restaurant - visit it once, its a great laugh and loads of fun.
  • Maisen - track it down - best pork ever!
  • Script - if you can, spend some time admiring the Japanese characters...
  • Bullet Trains - fast, comfortable and economic with the rail pass.
  • Kyoto - terrific place to visit for the shrines and temples.
  • Ask Around - You will get great local knowledge on Sushi, entertainment and sightseeing
  • Owl Cafes - Yup, brilliant!
  • Wander - don't be afraid to leave a few days blank and wander around - the train network in Toyko is brilliant.
Japan is not just for the Japanese, it is for humanity.

 

(Next trip has to be soon; so much more to see! :)

In the shadow of the mountains...

In the shadow of the mountains...

A Cure for Loneliness

Chris Rock once joked about relationships. "You are either bored or lonely." Funny yes. True? Well absolutely depending on your state of mind and how you see life.

I read not long ago, that what ever we do we regret what we didn't do. I am pretty sure it was the excellent Alain de Botton quoting one of the wise philosophers from times past. You see if we decide to go out, we regret we didn't stay and rest. If we choose to be in a relationship, we regret not being single. And so on.

These are thoughts all centred around loneliness. Perhaps you don't suffer from the plague of feeling loneliness but I can tell you that it can be an awful curse on ones life. It doesn't matter if you are in a relationship or not. Or in a crowd or not. Or busy or not. That sinking feeling of being alone and lonely can take the wind out of your sails.

There is a few ways to define loneliness but lets start with the feeling or the emotion.

We've all sat here before...

We've all sat here before...

It's the state of being isolated and disconnected leading to depression or a sadness that can be quite overwhelming. Perhaps it is my personality or environment that lends itself to sadly staring out into the distance at times, feeling utterly alone, disconnected from the hustle and bustle of modern society.

Perhaps it is unique to those who think too much. Or feel too much? Or perhaps it is living a life that is counter community or extrapolated from society. Whatever the case loneliness can bite really hard.

What is the cure for loneliness?

From experience I can tell you it is not being in the most congested of spaces, the busiest at work, the most amount of friends or social interactions.

The cure for loneliness in my experience is a wonderful recipe, that if applied, brings a great joy into one's heart.

The Recipe

  • Being Grateful - When you are feeling lonely, it is because you have looked inward and become insular. You are feeling an emotion of isolation and disconnection. But this resonates from being inward. If only we can train our minds to look outwards in this time and understand the world as a whole. When we see the whole world and its state then we can be grateful for what we have in our own lives. The wonderful blessings that we have versus what others have in their lives. This is positive outward thinking and turns the lonely thoughts and feelings to compassion and care for others.
  • Mindfulness - How often we get sucked into our own mind and it becomes a reality. If only we could learn to meditate and listen to our minds. See our emotions for what they are. Just emotions. Just thoughts. These states are temporal. It is impossible in this lifetime to experience the highs without feeling the lows. And loneliness is just one of them.
  • Love - Love comes in lots of shapes and forms. The Greeks have 6-10 definitions depending on who you read and research. The most important of all of these is Self Love. In that time of loneliness, when we are feeling disconnected and cut off, what if we can learn to fill ourselves up with self love. To care for ourselves. To rest our minds and our souls. To look in the mirror and know that there is a great person looking back.
  • Purpose - The stronger your commitment to your purpose in this life; the smaller the bouts of loneliness are and the shallower they feel. This is because when you utterly committed to your purpose, you know how little time you have to achieve things and reach the best version of yourself. Those lonely feelings are limited as you are too full of the passion for getting things done, helping others, seeing places, painting, writing or whatever it is that is your thing.
  • Acceptance - Loneliness is a normal feeling that comes and goes. To survive as a species we are drawn to others in the community and drawn to the opposite sex to procreate. The feelings and emotions need to be accepted for what they are; signals and magnetism for the purpose of survival of the species. It is also important to accept pain and suffering because this is how life learns, this is how we grow, this is how we become strong.

The cure for loneliness is not rushing off to the nearest bar, signing up to the closest club, madly connecting with people by social media or cracking open the 3rd bottle of wine. In my humble opinion is being alone, being grateful, being mindful, having love, following your purpose and finding acceptance.

The feeling of loneliness can be very painful

The feeling of loneliness can be very painful

 

With this approach we learn to be strong. We grow as individuals. 

Pour great waters into your cup; so they may flow over to others. A rich life; enriches others.

Dealing with being Overwhelmed

How often do we hear the word Overwhelmed. This blog was triggered by a friend and colleague who mentioned this term at least twice. I have great empathy because being Overwhelmed is the dance you do with the Devil on a daily basis in business.

You can only imagine the demons that people face in this crazy world we live in. People can have a right to feel swamped and overwhelmed in the "rat race" we live in. Relationship challenges, financial challenges, work challenges, personal development challenges and I'm only just getting started.

Its easy to picture folk all around us; they are juggling so many things at once from kids, to partners, to health issues, to work challenges, family and so on. This is exhausting. 

You can just see it; a lone warrior facing the hordes from all angles.

 

What do you do in this state?

 

Personally I have found a number of techniques that have helped and have listed them below. 

1. Positive Mindset. Studies show that people are significantly more efficient when viewing things from the Positive Mindset. The fact is the brain is defaulted to a negative state through the way we are wired. It's how we have survived as a species in our "lizard brain". The fact is that Positivity is an act. An Effort. If we can make this break through, the overwhelmed armies are shrunk significantly in the mind leaving energy and motivation.

2. Learn to Rest, not to Quit. Its easy to give up and walk away. The amount of times Mr Quit taps me on the shoulder and sticks his forked tongue, I have lost count. But there is a trick; finding those resting spots not only at night but through the day. An breathing for one minute has a proven scientific impact on building us into more positive and focused people.

3. The Power of Meditation. Leading on from the Rest. Meditation is a wonderful mechanism. You see overwhelming feelings are just that feelings. You can't see them or deal with them when you are stressed. But 5 minutes of meditation; you close your eyes and you see the feelings for what they are. They are weeds in the brain and as the constant gardener you can pluck them out. Once again you eradicate your feelings of being overwhelmed and stress levels drop significantly.

4. Remember the Titan. Yes remember the Titan you once where. It's highly likely that you have faced these feelings before in a similar state or situation. But you got through, you rose to be the giant you can be and scattered the issues in front of you. Don't forget you didn't come this far to just come this far.

5. Eat the Elephant. Part of being overwhelmed is the feeling of being surrounded by issues presenting a gigantic force that is seemingly impossible to defeat. Well as the adage goes; eat the elephant in small pieces. If you have 99 problems, chances are you can make it significantly less if you pick a list and attack it with great effort. One day at a time, one mouthful at a time.

6. Ask for Help. You are not alone. Talk to someone who has been through this before or can give you a unique perspective. Lean on them and in this moment you will understand you have what it takes to conquer and rise above these feelings of being swamped.

7. Remember the Why. You are in this state because you have taken on the challenge and the challenge comes with rewards. Its important to remember there is a reward for your efforts; the strength and experience you gain on this rocky part of the road is just the beginning. The Just War will always be won if the brave continue on with the Why in front of them.

8. The Wealth of Health. Don't neglect your health in these times. Sleep, exercise, eat well. Hard to do but well worth it for when you are on that treadmill, doing laps, or becoming the lotus the mind lets go and the endorphin's kick in.

9. Perspective On It All. Perhaps Ants can become Dragons if we let them. Remember there were others before us that survived world wars, the plague, economic starvation, poverty, abuse and more hell on earth. But they came through and so can you!

10. Laughter, the Best Medicine. Yep that simple. Laugh. It releases the stress. Find five minutes of your favourite comedy or comedian, for in that moment you will become a child again and all is well with the world.

 

Remember if you are going through Hell, keep going!

 

Thankful for the endurance that life has taught me and the quotes that those have gone before have shared.

An Australian Abroad

Happy Australia Day one and all.

Its that time again to celebrate all things Australian. The BBQ. The Vegemite. The Backyard Cricket. The Cheers. And all the other great stuff about this country.

One thing we should celebrate is the Australian Adventure. 

You see we are Down Under so there is always a yearning to Go Up Top. So many Aussies love slapping on the backpack, hunting for the passport and catching the last plane out of Sydney. Or Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra or Perth.

From the Yarra to the Yellowstone

From the Yarra to the Yellowstone

 

Off to distant parts of the world with a copy of Lonely Planet and a happy go lucky attitude that is a very uniquely Australian trait, as I have discovered. We really don't know how good we have it. This is the land of opportunity. Don't let the papers fool you. We are blessed beyond belief. Whatever we want to do, we can do it. If we really want to.

And a lot of us want to travel and discover the world. And so in usual Aussie fashion, we take our generous annual leave and disappear offshore.

I've been greatly privileged in my life time and more in recent times to adventure off in Europe, Asia, Africa and America. There is nothing quite like checking in to a flight and checking out of the day to day. (As much as a connected person can these days!)

The world loves Australia. (Mostly. Believe me I have some stories) We rollout with our sunburnt skin, wide eyes, easy going grins and a mixture of accents that confuse most people, because strangely enough we don't all sound like Crocodile Dundee. And for those reading this, I'm not about to catch an Uber Kangaroo although there is a great idea if only those Big Red's would cooperate.

America

I loved being in the US as an Aussie. Though I confess I didn't widely travel across the Land of the Brave and the Free, I did get full exposure of our wonderful cousins across the ocean. The Americans love nothing but a good chat about the weird and wonderful Australia. The strange version of Baseball we have. The fact that you can't drive to Perth in 3 hours from Sydney. And most recently this very strange and challenging conversation around Gun Control.

I did put my foot in my mouth with our friends on many occasion, when some of things we take for granted, were utterly repulsive to some of the good folk. Health Care. What? Outrageous.

The Iconic Golden Gate Bridge

The Iconic Golden Gate Bridge

 

Politics. Get out of town! And lets not mention those muskets again... Right.

But they love a larrikin Aussie and are mightily surprised at our curiosity. Flitting here and flitting there. Open the door to the Australians they say. Unless you are Fred Nile. He's too dangerous for the Stars and Stripes.

Hey we Australians even get the occasional smile from the fierce Border Customs. At least I'm sure it was a smile and not a grimace...

Asia

Wow what an incredible place. From the industrious Koreans, to the lovely Nepalese and the incredibly accommodating Filipinos. This is a continent where you can travel all over the place and still feel like you need two more life times to capture it all. 

And another lifetimes to understood just what you captured.

There was nothing like the smiles of the Balinese as they shared their spiritual dances with us, whilst continuing a steady flow of food and grog in Kuta and Seminyak. Don't forget to don the singlet, stare at snake tattoos and trudge around in thongs. (Flip Flops. Sandals etc.. #culturalcareful)

And the lazy days on Thai Beaches interacting with the locals on all fronts. Now there are some stories. Aussies are very much a double edged sword. Apparently there are some naughty Aussies that get up to mischief. (Note this is overstated as an Australian thing but it is a thing)

But when you catch the drift, you relax, Sa Wat Dee and Korbin Krub!

The marvelous sunset over Prom Thep Cape

The marvelous sunset over Prom Thep Cape

Singapore and Malaysia. Wow. There's a place an Aussie can have a conversation with locals on the heat. You regularly, to the amusement of the locals, conspire about the perspire. Seems that the shirt change is appropriate in more places than the Australian open.

India. Cricket. #endofstory Haha. Dont rile them up. But a good hearted rivalry with the good Indians is always welcome.

Africa

I can't say I have travelled there much, so this is an exciting plan for the future. But I will say this; that the people are beautiful and are genuinely accommodating. There is nothing like eating their national animal in South Africa and then inviting them to come and visit and do the same. (Vegetarians look away now). Their puzzlement turns into laughter when they realise that you are joking and not joking at the same time.

Football and Rugby. Two great conversation starters. :)

Just passing through...

Just passing through...

 

Europe

Well what can you say there. What a fascinating place that will dazzle your eyes and rob you of your sleep before you know it. From the politeness of the Brits, to the passion of the Spanish and the French. Ah the French. What an interesting bunch of people for Australians to visit. Eventually you charm them and the defences come down. But not after genuine smiles, plenty of Pardons and attempts to get the accent quite right. 

I would love to talk about the Belgiums or the Dutch. But I cant remember an awful lot. I can remember the food and coffee being incredible and meeting a lot of people! I still have pictures of the Canals, Buildings and the French Fries dripping in Mayo. And they love an Aussie with their multi pocketed pants, strange mannerisms and restlessness. 

Cant beat the Eiffel Tower at Night

Cant beat the Eiffel Tower at Night

 

A continent of mature sophisticated humans invaded constantly by these Down Under Kangaroos.

An Australian Abroad is broadly welcomed. 

 

South America & Antarctica

 #onthebucketlist

 

So when we celebrate our national day, we are in some ways celebrating our place in the world.

And our place is Down Under.

And as much as possible On Top.

Mahalo Hawaii

What is it about Hawaii? Why does everything seem so green here? Why does the ocean and the air have such a calming affect. An orchestra when combined with the chirp of the birds, the tinkling of crabs feet and the rustle of the shy lizard.

Could man even dream of building a paradise like this? Where the water both cools and warms and even the sharpest of rocks underneath ones feet feel like a solid bearable base supporting the luxury of the land? Where even the sand between your toes and other bodily crevasses, feels like a small memento of the island ingraining itself in you, connecting you and consuming you.

Even the Sun Sets in Paradise

Even the Sun Sets in Paradise

Ah Hawaii, how you have planted yourself in my heart, mind and soul.

It's my last day here. The sun is warm. The air is moist. The water gently washes at my torso in some ways trying to wash away the faults, failures and faux pas of the past. Bathing away civility, society and notoriety. Lapping at my legs.

I smile. There is God. There is life. There is a deep rooted connection between humanity and Mother Earth. She is kind to us who take the time to be still and hear her voice. And in Hawaii she speaks softly but clearly. The beauty is immense, so much so, my eyes well up with tears knowing the secret of paradise is that you must not stay. For then like all things, it becomes the norm and you take her for granted.

No you must rise from the green grasses, the coconut trees and the exotic fruit. Just like rising from a sleeping lover and dressing. One must firm themselves on the present and purpose and with a gentles kiss, a caress of her shiny black hair; leave.

Onto new islands and glass buildings. Vibrating smart watches and scheduled meetings. Alarm clocks and study books. Presentations and performance reviews. Closing deals and opening new doors.

Paradise is not lost, but left.

My bittersweet thoughts are heard by Hawaii and Mother Nature. And as a reminder of presence and the Power of Now. A turtle swims up next to me. Is it a smile on his noble face? He blinks at me tiredly and lazily paddles up to the wet sand. I cannot help grinning stupidly, self consciously but glad of the moment of learning.

The symbols of Mother Earth

The symbols of Mother Earth

Mr Turtle clambers up. Shell glistening in the sun after his swim through the rocks, waves and tides. He sinks into the sand and yawns. There is no wild thoughts in this little fellows head. There is no thought of tomorrow. There is no past to drag him down and confuse his purpose. No it is rest. Rest in the place of rest.

And what rest it has been. Waking up to the sun. Going to bed with the moon and the bright stars that gleam in unpolluted night.

The souls of the sky shine brightly when we put our lights and smog from so called progress.

Hawaii. Aloha. Mahalo.

Your lessons have not been lost. I shall leave on the back of your winds of fortune and return some day soon. And listen once again to whistle of the bird, the sound of ocean on rock and the gentle whisper of Mother Earth and her wisdom.

Paradise is not lost, but left.

Paradise is not lost, but left.

A Blog from Bangkok.

Patience. You learn all about it here in Asia. The hustle, the bustle. The long queues. The interesting confounding processes that seem simple; yet remain so complicated. The delays. The constant shuffling between one person to another. Patience, you learn it here in Asia.

But it is not the patience of raging against the storm. Forced upon you like weathering the storms, in a broken battered down shack. It is the soft gentle patience of acceptance. If you can find it. If you can handle it. It is the patience of accepting the inane ridiculous processes and chores of a life on this earth. Forced rest, my father calls it. The rest is the key word.

Welcome to Bangkok.

Welcome to Bangkok.

And so I found myself in between legs of a journey. From the pleasant comforts of an oasis in Phuket to the bright lights and burning fuel of airports and aeroplanes. On to business and the call of the commercial. Behind lays the sweet friendship of a Thai rose. This butterfly cannot linger too long. The call of the quest continues.

Looking at the travel schedule, I reluctantly give up the desire to race around the city, madly taking in scenes and giving the camera a workout. Instead, I sit alone at the airport, in a square courtyard carved out amongst the jungle of glass and concrete. A single tree springs up next to me, content in its own existence. A reminder that above all nature; is natural. It does not conform. It does seek reform. It does not require the norm. It is. It will be. It will be tree.

These thoughts bring a smile to my face. It reminds me of the depressive rage of past times and the fury of anxiety. A time when peace was in pieces. And Bliss was the name of an erotic massage parlour. Where meditation was a thing for hippies and monks. A time when spiritual life, seemed more construct and destruct. When it was a template for life. Not a temple for living.

Even though I am jet lagged and tired as hell. There is a strong undercurrent of energy and focus. Not on burning ambitions or driving dollars. But contentment and contemplation. The travel drains one force, but if we look hard enough, it creates so much more. And the thought occurs to me, inspired by my reading, travelling is with us all the time. Through meditation. Through reading. Through socialising. Through the observation of comings and goings. It is the desire to escape and experience new sights, sounds and pleasures. Why is this not achieved in our own backyard with a good book, a notepad and the luxury of segregated time.

The humble courtyard - a place for Holy Days?

The humble courtyard - a place for Holy Days?

If we desire a holiday. And if holiday is really a holy day. Cannot then every day be a Holy Day? Why not be on a holiday all our lives. We can escape from the routine. The pinch of the penny. The stress and anxiety of this alien modern world. The worlds within dwarf the world without. The inner voice unleashed is the best travel guide.

Is not the sharing of 2 minute noodles with a loved one discussing philosophy or art or the beauty of your children; far better than the finest steak and wine at a 6-star restaurant with dead of heart and mind?

Wealth is not the material but the immaterial.

The crash of a something, somewhere by a somebody; invades my thoughts. Its muggy in the courtyard. The hum of the airports air conditioners is very pleasant. A cold beer makes for an excellent refreshment and will hopefully aid the sleep on the overnight to Seoul. A depiction of Bill Bentley, hovers over me, holding his own frothy and smiling benignly.

The Benign Bill Bentley

The Benign Bill Bentley

 

Something tells me, quietly, to sit still and just listen. And so I do.

Dealing with Divorce - 10 Thoughts and Musings.

Ok divorce sucks. Lets just be clear, no-one wants to get a divorce. It's a miserable anti-climax to an otherwise beautiful story between man and woman, woman and woman, man and man.... And well anything else that is happening at the moment.

I'm writing this not because I am some kind of awesome person but because I am an idiot. Well I was an idiot I suppose is a fairer way of putting it. Or you can say that I behaved in an idiotic way for a while. Aw shucks.... Maybe I just had a journey to go through and was made of flesh, blood and other things men are made of during the mid life crisis period.... (10% self loathing, 50% confused, 20% fearful, 15% hopeful, 5% intoxicated)

But this blog is not about me. (kind of) This blog is about the big D. Not death... At least in death people turn up and say nice things about you. (I Hope!!! :/) I'm talking Divorce. It happens... Happens to 50% of couples these days. Well that's what some stats say. Who knows it might be out a bit but lets face it - its more common than not...

In reflection after going through the years of pain, agony, boozing, smoking and the heartbreak and coming out the other side, I figured it was time to put down a number of true thoughts and reflections.

This was my awesome wife Eliza and my partner in crime raising two wonderful girls..

This was my awesome wife Eliza and my partner in crime raising two wonderful girls..

1. Don't Flame and Don't Blame.

Yes there are wild emotions during this period. My god it is civil war. (with someone but mostly in yourself) It is carnage. It is the apocalypse. One person has initiated divorce. Or both. You lose control either way. Even if you are off on another tangent the emotions run wild wild wild. But the key thing is not to flame or blame. This is the person you were in love with. This is the person you chose to marry. This is the person that you shared dreams, hopes, adventures and the miracle of love. Who is at fault really? Even if someone has been the main culprit, there is no joy or maturity in blaming or bagging the other person out to everyone who will listen. Rather it is a time to go very very quiet and considerate. Because.... Wait for it... You may get back together! Or not. But either way YOU need to get put back together and it makes it worse when you fire bullets at the other person... Even when they are shooting missiles at you. Rise above it.

2. Understand what Divorce Really Is.

Its not nice. Its horrible. Its heartbreak. Its wretched. But what is it really? It is a breakup. Everyone breakups. Whether it is a teenager with a  1 day relationship at school or a 50 year marriage it is a breakup. Yes there are more working pieces BUT at the end it is the loss of love. A miserable shocking thing but a breakup. Like a business partnership or an employment contract; it can end and a new one can begin. There will be always a time to mourn and grieve and deal with the emotions but it is not the end!

A breakeup? Or a breakthrough?

 

3. Children Come First.

This is simple. Do not fight. Do not turn kids against a parent. Be safe. Be Careful. But put kids first. They did not choose to be born. They did not choose to be with divorced parents. They need their Mummy and Daddy. And they need peace and stability so they can grow and deal with their own shit. Which by the way in their own little universe can be like the end of the world. So they have to be Numero Uno.

4. Heal Thyself

Yes all sorts of things have gone wrong and you feel like its the end of the world. Your old comfortable routines are gone. Half of you has been torn out painful and wickedly. And people are against or for you. And you have legal and property issues to deal with. Not to mention sleep deprivation, bouts of depression and fits of anxiety. You also, underneath it all, even if she was a "bitch" or he was a "prick", you still care about the other person. You want to heal them and get things sorted (sometimes). But the point is, forget it all and focus on yourself. Not comforting, I know, but its the fact. What is that you contributed to the downfall? What can you do better? What are your issues? Is it time for counselling? Is it time for exercise? Travel? Study? What is it you need to do to get RIGHT and heal truly... Be complete. Find your values. Find your compass. Find your bliss.

5. Recognise the Reality of Assets

Stuff. That's what it is. You have worked hard for it and built it up. It may be the McMansion in the suburbs, the vintage car, that guitar you slaved for , the business built up, the holiday house, the trust fund etc etc. Its all just stuff. You may not feel like it or realise it but it wont mean an iota on your deathbed. So yes do the right thing and be fair, on both fronts, but don't let it override all emotions and turn you into an A Class Asshole. Oh and by the way its ok to get lawyers involved, its not ok to let them run the show. They are nice people lawyers. I met a few human ones once, (Just kidding legal eagles) but they are acting on  your behalf and will often push to get the "best" deal. It may not be the best deal for everyone. Keep em well managed : (Watch Liar Liar)

Its all just stuff.

 

6. Shut out your Lover and Friends

If you have moved on quickly and got that hot guy or girl or the dreamy love of your life that is ok. If you have a horde of rabid fans or friends that is ok to. Just get them to shut the ____ up. They will always have their 2 cents plus GST and will be on your back to do the "right thing by you" (and them... hint hint). Only you and your partner know what the right thing is; with advice from neutral professional people. PS The blonde at the bar you have hooked up with and cried your heart out to; probably doesn't have all the answers or best advice, especially after 5 Martinis.

7. Respect, Love and Care for the Other Half

Go on. Is it really that hard to look above your own emotion and desires and try to see it from their side? Rightly or wrongly a little love, care and respect goes a long way. Especially if you have mutual friends involved. And especially when there are children and family involved.

The kids are always there and should be always loved

The kids are always there and should be always loved

 

8. Mind Yourself. Meditate and Don't Medicate.

Ok this is where I failed big time! I went on one bender after another. It wasn't just the divorce it was a spiritual breakdown combined with exhaustion; but there is no excuse. Partying hard doesn't solve any problems ad is a terrible solution to most problems but particularly divorce. As someone wiser than I once said, "Going overboard on the booze is simply borrowing the happiness of tomorrow". What I have found that is powerful is meditation. A chance to get quiet and listen to your inner voice and get some real honest and pure answers. A quiet approach to complex and challenging scenarios often is the best way. And get counselling. Together, separately; either way its important to debrief and talk through the situation. Navigate through the maze of the mind? Get a guide....

Boozing is borrowing the happiness from tomorrow

 

9. Understand Control and Power.

Pretty much it's an easy one.  You are not in control and you do not have power. Unless you are referring to yourself. In which case you have control over your actions (Unless you, like me have failed  #8 a few times quite spectacularly) and power over your thoughts and emotions. Forget being a control freak and trying to muscle or manipulate through the divorce. It just wont work. And whatever comes out of it is very bad. Just let go and work through things together and in a "values based approach".

10. Enjoy the Blessings

Believe it or not but there are plenty of things to be grateful for. There are probably 10 right now. Children? Health? Wealth? Friends? Freedom? There are many ways to shape your view and if you focus on your blessings then your brain is wired in a positive and energetic way. I use to scoff but I don't leave the house every morning without. It works... :)

 

Can a marriage really fail? Can love fail?

Can a marriage really fail? Can love fail?

Conclusion. Don't run off and get a divorce! Work at it. But if it is the right thing to do. Work through it maturely, carefully. Learn from my mistakes. :) There is no such thing as failed marriage. It is a beginning and an end. Sometimes it ends at the grave, sometimes sooner. Enjoy, endure while it lasts and then move on with respect, care and understanding.

To Eliza; thank you for the 13 years of our relationship, the 11 years of marriage and the days and months following where you really showed your values, character and heart. I'm so happy you are happy and those two little girls we share are a gift from heaven. Salute!

 

School Reunions - Reminiscing and Reflecting

School reunions often are met with polar opposite reactions. You get a bulk of people who would rather be fed through a sausage machine than attend a school reunion. After all, years on, we are very different people from the dorky, geeky, smiling heads that shone out of the year book; in all their innocence. 

On the other hand you have the group of people who are super pumped to get back together, reminisce on the good ole days, drink cheap booze and dance to Prince and Boyz II Men. Party like it's 1996 (in my case last night) when we had a whole life ahead of us.

There is a small group in the middle who couldn't be assed to do anything but usually one special person or a group go back to the old tried and trusted method of peer pressure, and instead of getting someone to smoke behind the toilets or join the choir, they are dragged to a school reunion.

They way we were.

They way we were.

 

Nothing beats the beauty of peer pressure especially when it invokes the emotions of a teenager struggling to understand themselves and their place in society.

Either way you front up and meet people that you haven't met in decades (in my case) and are astonished by the change and lack of change. In the best possible way. 

People have gained weight, gained beards, gained wealth, gained tattoos, gained scars,  gained kids, gained careers. At the same time these folks have lost partners, lost hair, lost innocence,  lost fears, lost restraint, lost wealth and so on.

Either way time has had its toll whilst adding wisdom and weariness.

And the stories are telling. Lives have passed on prematurely. Through misfortune, misdeed and mismanagement. Lives has been wasted thanks to the vices of this earth and the lack of moderation. Lives have been enhanced as love has been found and families have been built. The world has changed as lives have been given in the search for intelligence, social enhancement and the help for those greatest in need.

I met kids who have become adults. From the floating along to the firing. Doctors. Business People. Psychologists. Administrators. Professionals. Dreamers. Achievers. Mothers. Fathers.

Standing around catching up on time, reminding ourselves of the good, bad and ugly days of school and surviving such an awkward, insecure times. The days when you bore, possibly the hardest journey in life; the transformation from a child to an adult. The days when the opposite sex (or same sex) was discovered. And strange things happened to the body, the heart, the mind and the soul.

The days when your inadequacies and your strengths were exposed in the worst possible ways. When you did too much or did too little. The days when every emotion burnt brightly and engulfed you. Love. Anger. Jealously. Sorrow. Hope. Excitement. Anxiety. Depression.

20 years on, balance has come along. But there will be always a small part of us defined by those school-tie wearing days. The mystical thought of a romance. The anger of violence. The bliss of brotherhood. The wonder of womanhood. The triumph in sport.

Whether you are up or down, the numbers are the same.

Whether you are up or down, the numbers are the same.

 

These are the stars and the scars that are tattooed on our soul.

7300 days have passed plus change. 7300 opportunities to go forward. 7300 moments to make the world a better place. From the innocent faces staring out at an unknown future to the faces on a journey forged in sorrow and success.

There is one last reflection. One last thought. What will we do with the next 7300? What possible triumph of spirit can be achieved between last night and 7/2036? What jobs will be created on the back of our endeavors? How many lives will be improved by our efforts? How many countries will we see? How many children will be raised to be the citizens of the future? What art can we create to inspire humanity and express the mystical? How many more laughter lines will come upon our visage as we follow our bliss?

Whether you look at the numbers up or down up or down they are still the same. Whether you are up or down; your class mates are still the same. United in time and place.

Onwards APHS96, Onwards.

Smiling, Happy People.

Smiling, Happy People.

The Joy of Photography

Ok. Here's the thing I am not a photographer. By no stretch or means. But somehow it's captured me. Pun intended. I've always taken pictures. Mainly events that stand out, or people or family. The usual point the iPhone and zap. I did have one of those "old fangled" Canon digital camera things but I confess I hardly used it. Not like some of my friends who went completely mad when the digital cameras invaded our society. And that was before social media made its grand debut on humanity.

But recently I have started traipsing around the place, capturing photos from the mundane to the magic, from the earthly dirt to the heavenly skies. Its got a hold on me! Time seems to disappear and peace comes along with great joy; in the capturing of images to the enjoying your handiwork later.

Light presents some brilliant photos along with some great stories.

Light presents some brilliant photos along with some great stories.

 

It got me thinking. Why? How is it possible that something that is so peaceful and joyous was missed upon myself and many others.

I'm no craftsman and the terminology/settings are mostly lost on me. But the handy Nikon DSLR (more on this here) and some extra's have made for some pretty awesome photos that added to the collection. So I can see that perhaps it is not the perfect photo that gets me going but something else.

Update - I have had an excellent article sent to me by Jen Reviews (Thanks!) This is a great blog on how to choose a DSLR Camera. Strongly suggest a read... Here is the link -> https://www.jenreviews.com/dslr-camera/

There lots of reasons for taking up photography but here are a few that struck me...

Presence

For some of us the mind is incredibly intense and invasive. My brain represents Grand Central Station at peak hour. Its both exhausting and a roller coaster ride. Meditation allows the trains to slow down and mindfulness helps in observation and not getting on the wrong trains. Its incredibly powerful to stare down the lens and everything fades away. Peace reigns; staring down the barrel of a lens. Whether it be a dragon fly scooting across the water or just an interesting looking log.

Detail

Its amazing how we don't stop to smell the roses or observe the little things. I spent 20 minutes watching the leaves of a plant yesterday and seeing every little detail. Even the humblest little weed is so incredibly detailed and developed. It makes you wonder at the magic of this incredible world. The joy of appreciated miracles everywhere.

Exercise

Sure you can sit on a bus and take myriads of pictures. Or you can stand on the corner and shoot to your heart's content. But all the photographers I know end up walking sometimes for a complete day. They say that all you need is 20 minutes of walking and your brain activates some really cool stuff. (More here on the brain lighting up!) So before you know it you have burned of a bunch of those calories and the second coffee doesn't feel so guilty.

I love pictures of birds. Now I get birdwatchers!

I love pictures of birds. Now I get birdwatchers!

 

Sharing

I can't shake the story of the man who isolated himself from society and was found dead in a forest. His last journal entry was about the importance of a shared existence. So sharing the pictures and sharing in others photos is such a wonderful experience. A picture says a thousand words. So each picture is a story in itself. Wow! Its interesting seeing some of the Instagram accounts and the stories they tell.

View

I think one of the greatest joys I have experienced is the joy of taking photos from a different angle. The back of a statue. Lying on the ground to capture the skyline through the legs of table. Photos of photos. Photos of photographers. Creating magic through the use of filters. It reminds you that you are unique and special and the center of the universe is in you. It is very representative of coming back to you the present and looking out at the world with fresh eyes and eagerness.

All I can say is I am a big fan of "Photo Therapy" and you should be too! :)

I'll never forget this moment on Kata Beach, Phuket.

I'll never forget this moment on Kata Beach, Phuket.

All Sane Humans are Feminists

So Feminism is a label that some want (Alan Jones, Anthony Albanese) and now the current campaigning Prime Minister; Malcolm Turnbull. But then there are those who don't want it; Michaela Cash and of course the honorable Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. This is something that I find very interesting and have been following this for some time.

Annabel Crabb absolutely nails it in today's Fairfax article which I had the pleasure of reading in the Age in a beautiful Melbourne Pub; The Duke. A quick straw poll from my female friends shows a split down the middle, some embrace the label or term, others cast it away with a disdain.

Crabb is right. Its the stigma of being seen as a man-hater. A rebellious anarchist, a withered up bitter spinster, an angry turbulent sour puss... You know all the terms that are thrown out there. Personally that is a load of BS. The term is a good and positive one. Here it is according the el favourite dictionary.com.

 

Feminist - advocating social, political, legal and economic rights for women equal to those of men.

Everyone's welcome on Team Feminism...?

Everyone's welcome on Team Feminism...?

I think that means any sane human being; man or woman is a feminist; by definition! And hopefully we can add 'humanist' where rights based on sex is a stupid ancient silly foot note. Coming from a family of strong women (Mon Dieu! La femme est grande!), its hard and very sad, to think in the past we have been pathetic as a species.

I love Alain de Botton's work. The last book I read recently was Status Anxiety and covered a section on Virginia Woolf in the Politics section. Virgina Woolf was visiting Trinity College Library in Cambridge, in order to do some research, in which she was not permitted inside by a crusty old tool dressed up as a gentleman. She was required to be accompanied by a "Fellow of the College".

Virginia asked an interesting question, not 'what is wrong with not being allowed in the library' but rather 'what is wrong with the keepers of the library, not allowing me in the library.'

The idea, that based on your sex, you get access to books or not seems mad. And most people would agree to this; men and women. On that basis most people are feminists; equal rights for women.

Sometimes I struggle to comprehend, we even have these conversations in 2016. I'm sure if it was my sister, the library doors would have fallen inwards and the old chap would have withered away. Her death stare was legendary along with "the finger in the face" move.

In my profession as an entrepreneur I have met some very powerful, high achieving and influential business people, some of these have even been men. Gail Kelly, struck me, when presenting once, how rational her argument was, and that it was a non argument. Competency, capability, connectivity and tenacity are all the hallmarks required for success in ones profession. This is not a male or female thing. This is a thing.

An old school friend of mine, was an absolute champion at demonstrating merit and capability; and did not give a flying fox as to gender. I called her "ballsy" recently... She loved the compliment. The point being is the compliment applied to anyone who had the courage and capability to make things happen, girl or boy, woman or man.

As a proud Father (and a feminist) of two daughters, Maya and Ariel, I want them to grow up in a world where merit is the only criteria AND everyone has equal rights.

I want them to grow up in a World; where all Sane Humans are Feminists.

 

What society will they grow up in the future... An equal and fair one.

What society will they grow up in the future... An equal and fair one.

 

 

The Importance of a Start Up Sequence

Ever leap out of bed, dashed to the shower, jumped into the clothes and ran out the door?

I think we have all done this... :/

But what if this was closer to the norm? What if the amount of activities before sleep and action were minimal to zero. What sort of start to the day is that?

Imagine an elite athlete running a race without the right nutrition, warm-up or clothing?

What about a race car exploding out of the blocks without the proper fuel, oils and start up regime?

How about taking an exam without any preparation?

I think you get the point - its pretty much the worst way to tackle something.

Sadly I spent a lot of my life (like a lot) jumping out of bed, hitting the shower and rushing out the door. Unsurprisingly the days didn't exactly go so well. Head aches. Lethargy. Lack of Patience. Lack of Calmness. Agitation. Depression. Anxiety. And the list goes on.

And it doesn't matter how many beroccas or coffees you slam down (and in my bad old days; cigarettes) you still just cant perform or get the efficiency expected. Not to mention the feeling when finally landing at home. Annoyed. Frustrated and in general irritated about lack of progress or another day not at your best. (Yep Guilty as charged)

The funny thing is after a lot of soul searching I have found my Start Up Sequence to each day absolutely critical in being the best and following a meaningful and purposeful life. I have been doing this for the last 6 weeks with GREAT results. I haven't missed a day and quite frankly do not think I will miss another one for the rest of my life. I mean if you can be at your best ALL DAY for the rest of your life then what's there not to like. :) :) :)

And in reflection it makes sense to me. A computer has a Start-up Sequence. A car has a Start Up Sequence. Just about every machine has one. Animals have a start up sequence as well. I mean have you ever seen a cat wake up. The amount of stretching they do is incredible. :)

So here is my start up sequence.

* Set Smart Alarm - I always set a smart alarm to ensure i wake up at an optimal time with in the range of getting up. I use my pebble watch to wake me up in an hour range which is any time from 5.30 to 6.30. (PS if you don't like getting up early here is a Great Little Inspirational piece from Forbes )

* Prayer and Meditation - Ok so you might not be religious or believe in higher powers. I'm certainly not religious but have become very comfortable with a higher power or a God. In any case meditation is amazing! Especially if you are like me and suffer from a flurry of thoughts mostly about the future. I do a lot of gratitude thinking before 5 minutes of meditation split into two sections. 2-3 minutes counting to 1-10 front and backwards in 3 languages. (English, French and Korean - helps me practice and takes my mind away from thoughts). Then 2-3 minutes of body scanning. This is a fun one. Just sit with feet on ground, upright and hands on lap. Start feeling your toes, sole, feet, heel, ankle and all the way up to the top of your head spending time on each part. Amazing how good you feel after doing this - the mind is a LOT clearer. (Here is WebMD on Meditation)

* Exercise and Stretching - Its amazing how important movement is in getting out of sleep and the feeling of fatigue. I use my Han Mudo warm up routine which takes about 10 minutes to do. It is effectively warming up every part of the body before 5 minutes of quick cardio. This gets the body moving and fired up for an epic day. (Lifehacker on Stretching)

* Diary - After hitting the shower and getting into clothes I sit down and hit the diary. This is a critical part of the start up sequence for me. Sitting down and mentally preparing for the day, acknowledging successes and getting a list going is awesome. (I confess I often do this with a coffee sitting next to me - cant beat that aroma in the morning :) I cover off the date, my personal values, my successes, my list of actions for the day, the things I am grateful for, my long term goals and a motivational quote that I write down. By the time this is done I am FIRED UP! (Huffington Post on Gratitude Diary)

All in all from start to finish this is generally 45 minutes to an Hour depending on other activities. (I cheat a little most days by having an UP and GO rather than a fancy omelette or the good old wheatbix)

Oh and if you didn't notice. The acronym for my sequence is S.P.E.D or as I like to remember it SPED UP!

What do you think? Worth giving a try? Worth designing your own Start Up Sequence? What if an extra 30 minutes a day in the morning gave you 2 or 4 hours extra output in productivity? Or simply left you feeling great, charged up and ready to go.

Life is too short to waste! I strongly suggest you watch Tim Urban on Procrastination. Absolutely brilliant in focusing our lives on procrastination and purpose. Wow! 

Thanks for Reading and Wishing You the Best Each and Every Day!