Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The low road, the high road and the road less travelled

A relationship is only as good as the two people in it. This may seem obvious but relationships, be they platonic, romantic, corporate or toxic, are founded on the values of the individuals in question. No two people are the same but their values have to be purposefully aligned in order to create a healthy or unhealthy partnership.
Breaking down
Relationships are long, winding roads with hairpin bends and hidden hazards. It’s negotiating these pitfalls that either makes or breaks a relationship. Some relationships are destined to flounder – that is a natural law.

 Relationships that are wholesome and uplifting are destined to succeed – that is divine law. Other relationships are in-between -  good and bad, love and hate, pleasure and pain will prevail but it will feel like a roller coaster ride – exhilarating and fearful!

Be careful who you travel with
Relationships bring out the best and the worst in us. Forgiveness and compassion are two important ingredients in a loving relationship.  Insecurity and ignorance are major contributors in a toxic relationship. Destructive relationships are very hard to let go of. Sometimes we get a thrill from that burst of anger as we unleash a bitter tirade on the other person. We feel self-righteous in our indignation.  It feels good to release pent-up feelings but we have to do it in a healthy way so as not to wound the other person.
Relationships are delicate, like bone china, and must be handled with care. Feelings are fragile and self esteem shaky. Our egos are self-protecting mechanisms but once activated can go out of control – if we let it. The man/woman relationship is fraught with difficulties as the ego disguises arrogance as  confidence, lust as love and selfishness as independence.

People choose their relationship paths and, according to your character, you will either choose wisely or poorly. They are training grounds; though neither party is quite sure what its aim is until the relationship ceases. Then you can look back with either anger or understanding.
The low road

The low road of relationships is where two people find kinship with their egotistic tendencies. At first, they are greatly attracted to each other's strength and assertiveness. If they are well matched then they will give each other a run for their money.  Soon, however, one tries to dominate the other and they lock horns on a number of issues. The relationship then stagnates as what once what was a turn-on becomes a great turn-off. They  live with each other but on sufferance. The heart never lies and will eventually out all the weaknesses of the partnership.
The high road
The high road is an infinitely better place to be. This relationship is a forum for spiritual progression  where there is a satisfactory amount of give and take. The two people within it know that there is something pure and selfless in their hearts that they wish to share. Whenever one stumbles on this road the other will catch them. This is a where the load (that’s a burden on the low road) feels lighter.  Should this relationship break there are no hard feelings since the two know that important lessosn have been learned.
The road less travelled is the spiritual path. This is a road where relationship is transformed into something sublime and does not have to contain two entities. This is the dialogue and commitment you have with your soul. It is an awe-inspiring and peaceful gateway to your highest aspirations. Many times in our life we sense we are on this road and we glimpse heaven. However, we come crashing down to the high / low road as soon as we succumb to our human weaknesses.      
The road less travelled
The highest road is within our reach and with mindful, spiritual navigation, the road less travelled will have a few more tyre marks.


Monday, 20 June 2011

The Killing Fields

Picture perfect
I was born in the killing fields of an island that holiday brochures describe as “paradise”. As far as first impressions go, it is stunning.  Miles of soft, sandy beaches surrounded by waters that shimmer like crushed sapphires. 

Most days, the sky is a translucent blue and each evening there is a magnificent sunset. The rains kiss this gentle earth  blessed with an exotic range of fauna and flora and a range of wildlife that could rival the best game reserves of Africa.   
Though it has few natural resources it has a wealth of beauty and any visitor to this isle will rarely have anything unfavourable to report.             
Sunkissed Serendib
 I am not a visitor and would that I were a patriot.  I am a humble world citizen who has been just as much a victim (as the other minority races that reside there) of the abuses that the ruling class mete out to their underlings.   Though  karma also delivered me from the hands of my “lesser developed” countrymen to the developed world and I am grateful. However, my fate is to be an immigrant…hopefully an enlightened one.
Problem solving in Paradise

There’s big trouble in little Paradise as documented by a film crew who witnessed some of the military atrocities to end a long standing war.  War is never pretty but the jubilation that arose after this slaughter of  innocents is an ugly reminder of mankind’s lust for power. Oh yes, despite it’s rare beauty this paradise has been awash in blood and a tsunami of tears.  Nature’s bounty has been defiled and devoured by the greed and ignorance of the very people it supports.
This country could have been the pearl in the oyster of Asia but it lays now bloodied, battered and licking its wounds. Abuse is rife and manifests not just in war zones but in the daily lives of the weakest and most vulnerable members of society – women and children.  A government that represses basic freedoms  is not paradise. A government that is slow to improve the quality of life for its citizens is not paradise. Any person living in this country will tell you it’s not paradise…not by a long chalk. Human subsistence is a daily grind and abject poverty an evil consequence.
Paradise lost
There is a presence of Buddhism in this land and statues of a prince who rejected his noble birth in favour of a life of austerity line the roads. Buddhism is worn as a badge of honour but the practices of it are ignoble.  The people of this country display a host of behaviours akin to that of demons – in this paradise you will find the seven deadlies in hearts that are as dark as their faces. Lust, avarice, sloth, gluttony, pride and anger  are some of negatives you will encounter if you delve deep enough into hearts and minds.   
Where is the love?

Crushed dignity
Anger is perhaps the worst of them all since it turns fathers, brothers, uncles and other male role models into tyrannical figures who make war (not love) to their womenfolk and children.

 In turn, the women robbed of their dignity become cruel and bitter. Their psychological make-up often twisted and distorted as they fight over anything worth having…which would be worthless by any developed standard. It’s a vicious circle that everyone accepts as karma and there is no will to implement change.
But change has come to Paradise for reasons that are not celebratory. There’s no longer a war since the minority was bombed whilst they sought help from hospitals and make-shift medical centres. Some of them were poorer than poor. Post battle, soldiers took photographs of the dead in order to later boast of their triumphs.

 Life has become far too cheap in paradise and it will cost you a fortune to live there.

Power sharing -"You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours"
Minds in this paradise are as small as the land space and very little effort is put into meaningful expansion (though hotels and leisure parks are springing up at an alarming rate). There’s no shortage of qualified brains but if not imbibed with finer feelings of human worth then there can be no significant improvement to life and liberty. 

Freedom is much maligned in this paradise. The state is the “Fat Controller” and politicians well-oiled fat cats. Loving kindness is in hiding and compassion banished. If they’d only given a thought to sharing a tiny piece of their smallness they could have achieved spiritual greatness.
There is strength and untold benefits in the unification of all cultures. That is the way to build and grow a congenial and progressive thinking society.

Today Paradise’s reputation lies sullied and besmirched wrought by those who deviate from the path of peace to the pot hole riddled roads of malcontent.  Buddha sleeps in his temple as his teachings fall on deaf ears. This paradise has become a hell on earth.
Re-building paradise

Be the creator of your own paradise, with hope not hate, whether it be in the land of your birth or elsewhere.


Sunday, 19 June 2011

My family and other wild parties

Family fun
Families are the reason you’re on this planet. A man and a woman (your parents) came together and, by the grace of God or IVF, you and your siblings were created. I’m sure you’ve been wondering how such an odd bunch of people could have showed up in your lives....and you’re not wrong!

Though you may all have been cut from the same cloth your fibre and textures are each unique. In my family, we’re an eclectic bunch – one of us is homespun silk, one is rough cotton, another is smooth chambray and one of us has a hide as thick as a rhino’s – and I’m not telling you who’s who!!

We are also of different temperaments. We range from mellow to brash  but it’s our powers of recall of childhood that makes each one of us stand out. One of us believes we had a tough childhood, another thinks it was pretty average, the other believes that it was a “Pollyanna” world where there were reasons to be cheerful and the last of us thinks it was a disaster on the scale of the Titanic. 
Monkeying around
Yes, when we get together it’s pretty wild and we always agree to disagree!

We have many a vociferous exchange on a host of controversial subjects from capital punishment to the problem of addictions. We are opinionated and quarrelsome. We do not give in easily and we rarely go down without a fight! Thankfully we only get together once or twice in the year so the neighbours have peace.

Talk to the head 'cos the face ain't listening!
Verbal sparring is our weapon of choice. It must be our defective (or perhaps effective) genes that turns us all into eloquent orators and social commentators. We take immense pleasure in explaining to our parents how their style of nurturing did alot more harm than good. Birth order is another one of our complaints and I’ll be the first to say that being the eldest was a responsibility I’d rather have avoided. We like to sound off about the very things we cannot change but don’t seem at all quick to change the things we can eg. being less argumentative.

The other oddity is that we are happy to give advice but balk if another member offers us any. Most of the advice dished out defies logic and sometimes gravity! One of us with the least education and who couldn’t wait to leave school (with few qualifications) has risen to the lofty heights of company director and is the most prosperous of all. He is the self-made member of our family claiming that a university education is a handicap to an entrepreneurial spirit. I suspect he’s right but don’t wish to concede my position that no amount of education is ever wasted – be it too much or too little.

Family peace-keeping force
The two younger members of the family have earned themselves the title of adventurers since embarking on working holidays Down Under. One succeded and one failed in the material sense but they have both thrived.

I am perhaps the spiritual pioneer. I have crossed the psychological and emotional frontiers that once were obstructive. I am the raconteur and indomitable spirit who cruises through the challenges  that life throws down – sometimes with a little help from my family.

You certainly can’t choose them....thank God....if you could you’d never choose them
In our own strange way, we love each other dearly but some of the gang need to be kept on a tight leash. 

Laughter is the great leveller and we do alot of that whether it’s at someone else’s or our own expense. Only in our family could a tragedy turn into a comedy and vice versa ....eat your heart out Mr Shakespeare!

Really wild tea party

I’d have hated to be an only child....(wistful sigh)...all that spoiling and attention would have done me no good at all (I think). Love them or hate them, thickness of blood unites and in times of need or with hours to kill... guess who’ll be coming to dinner? 


Friday, 17 June 2011

The best things in life are not cheap!

Sunset Sale
Whoever said the best things in life are free were hermits living in caves.  No matter how much we strive to have the good things in life, be it material or spiritual, very few come without any kind of cost.
Material things no doubt cost and, if you have a taste for high living, then you’ll need to keep earning to pay for it. I love beautiful objects, furnishings, gadgets, lingerie, haute couture and exquisite jewellery as much as much as the next person (though not nearly as much as Mrs Donald Trump!). 

Tired soles
I'm a discerning consumer and partial to the odd bit of extravagance but am kept in check by the need for sanity to prevail. A new pair of  designer shades,shoes or shorts will not satisfy my soul.  

Moreover, I have limited space in my house and don't wish to feel crowded out.   No matter how tempting the wares of Messrs Marks and Spencer, Mr John Lewis, Mr Harrods and Mr Selfridges I must rein in my material desires. 
"Buy one get one free" fever

Beautiful things are greatly admired but lose their attraction once possessed.
There's always a vast array of bigger and more beautiful things to be had and I am no slavish follower of fashion. 

 The fact of the matter is that though I like the good things I do not love working to pay for them.
Time is infinitely more valuable than money but it's what you do with both that count. Therefore, it’s important to sort and prioritise your wants and needs.  It’s an effective method towards understanding who you are and what fulfils you .
I’ve decided that my list of wants and needs are not impossible but they are hard to come by.
Generally, I’m easy going so here are a few of my simple pleasures (wanted and sorely needed):
The prairie - open 24 hours
·         Tranquil surroundings (5 acres on the prairie) 
·         The glorious fragrance of  an  abundant flower garden (found in stately homes or at the Chelsea Flower Show)
·         Rugged Adventure (daring stuff like trekking in the mountains or whitewater rafting in Canada)
·         Healthy food for nourishment (organic home cooked or in a restaurant)
·         On the beach watching a tropical sunset (somewhere in the Seychelles)
·         Dancing to the dulcet tones of a jazz band (at the Café Royal)
Two for one offer!

All of the above cost a good many pretty pennies and would certainly stretch (and break) my modest budget. But guess what…..dreams and wishes are free.

Through all my musing and meditations I have discovered even simpler things where you can truly forget about the price tag:

·         Lying on the grass reading a good book 
·         Walking barefoot (after a hard day in your shoes)
·         Smiling (at yourself in the mirror)
·         Holding hands (with your child and/or partner)
·         Laughter (spilling forth like a dam about to break its banks)
Happy hour
·         Gazing at a full moon and twinkling stars (appreciating the wonders of nature) 
·         Sitting at my laptop writing (marvelling at technology that allow a USB stick to store so much data)
·         Bird, squirrel and rabbit watching in my garden (remembering our connection to all living things)
·         Inspiration (from the sunshine and rain; a metaphor for pleasure and pain)
·         Special friends (who make warmth so easy to give and receive)
Bunny love!
·         Remembering (that every day is a special day and will not come again)

The best things in life are not all free but the best thing of all is that we’re free to choose what’s best for each of us.


Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Fool's Paradise

Surgical toy

A fool and his age are never contented. That’s a truism about the search for eternal youth and why so many people resort to going under the knife. Cheek, brow and jaw lifts are becoming more popular amongst the middle youth – (that’s new age speak for anyone between the ages of 40 – 55).
The pursuit of youth has long been a human pre-occupation and there are no end of skin rejuvenators, brighteners (frighteners!) and serums to stave off those wrinkles. Ageing is not a crime and neither is self improvement.  Beauty only becomes a beast if you allow it to devour your self-esteem to the point where surgical intervention is necessary to boost your image.
A surgeon cannot provide you with charisma, allure, magnetism, charm, electric intellect,  savoire-faire and that certain “Je ne sais quoi”. People take the surgical route in the hope that they’ll have more of the very qualities that money alone can’t buy.  No doubt, physical enhancements may provide a catalyst for attracting the opposite sex but it’s a false friend. If you don’t have the personality to back up your good looks then the object of your desire will soon get bored (unless they’re just as superficial).
It’s amazing how some of the truly beautiful (facially gifted) believe themselves to be imperfect whilst the more facially challenged (ugly) seem to think that they’re quite flawless. By a strange reversal of fortune, beautiful people are insecure about their looks whereas the less beautiful are positively narcisstic.
Pure and lovely
It’s a shame that people are gullible and surgeons so manipulative. Before they start altering your body they must fool your mind into believing that they hold the key to your happiness. Happiness being a new face and body.  Your body is an investment but one that entails maintaining it in a healthful and holistic sense. 
The growing trend of cosmetic surgery is worrying and even damaging. A surgeon is a slick salesperson who lines his pockets as he carves you up.  Looking good is about feeling good and vice versa. The feeling comes first not the look. The soul is the most beautiful of all and thankfully it’s one small part of us that a surgeon can’t touch. The paradise of golden youth is within.
Keep your heart young and you will have control over your ageing. Nature is effortless  and needs no fripperies….would you spray paint a rose?
If you still don’t believe you’re naturally beautiful then here’s some reverse psychology – surround yourself with people uglier than you then you’ll always feel beautiful!
What a feeling!


Monday, 13 June 2011

Executive Coaching

“Coaching is a powerful conversation with a purpose and an outcome” – how true!

Three..four..even five times a lady
The purpose is to dupe you into handing over your hard earned income and the outcome is that a life coach gets very rich at your expense.

Life coaching is big.....and it’s the ideal profession for someone nearing retirement who’s bored with the current field they find themselves in.

There are several myths about life / executive coaching that I’m keen to dispel:
        No one knows you better than yourself (and the best life coach is that little voice inside your head so listen up)
·        Your personal development is your business (not someone else’s)
·        Life coaches are strangers whom you’d never want as friends (let alone neighbours)
·        Life coaches are not magicians; they cannot work miracles for you
·        Remember that teacher at school who always talked down to you....that’s a life coach in another incarnation

I have been a life coach’s guinea pig and it was worse than insulting. They talked about motivation and inspiration as if it came in a bottle (though they forgot to mention where it was obtainable). Fortunately, since they were trainees their “advice” was free but, once qualified, they are transformed into daylight robbers. The vulnerable and their cash are soon parted!

When I was going through a particularly painful period of my life, an e-mail would appear in my inbox from a coach each month. Those words did soothe my savage breast and injected me with a quiet confidence to tackle the issues I was facing. 

When this trying time was finally over the e-mails stopped coming as if the Universe somehow knew that I had overcome that particular difficulty.
If you only knew the personal backgrounds of these so called experts you’d change your identity or leave the country. Life coaches are charlatans spouting new age drivel.

The true measure of an effective life coach is never about the exchange of cash. Many of the people who’ve helped me improve my life are those whom I’ve witnessed going through tough times, coming out fighting and ending up on top. These good souls do not travel around the world, drive a convertible or live in a swanky part of town. They have experienced the grim realities of life in 4D – debt, divorce, despair and dumb asses!

I would never trust a life coach who turned up in a designer suit and told you that you can be as good as him/her.  They will usually babble on about their credentials and how body language is the key to impressing potential employers. After which they reach into their Louis Vuitton document case and hand you their invoice on creamy, letter headed note paper.

Lucrative lifestyle
Never allow them to delve into your mind. They will toy with piecemeal information and soon you’ll find yourself in a psychotherapist’s chair (no doubt a colleague of theirs who will also be keen to relieve you of a tidy sum).

Life coaching is about doing life – so – just do it. It’s not rocket science. So When you get up every morning, take a deep breath and just do it. Breathing, after all, is still free.
If, however, you need just a little spur to action, then there’s a host of advice available on the internet that doesn’t cost a thing ( including this blog).

Money cannot buy you love or coaching ‘cos loving yourself don’t cost a thing!


Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Unholy Trinity - Desire, Control & Possessiveness

Nearly all relationships are made up of one or two or all three of the above.  This is a little understood fact because if it were there’d be less births, marriages and dubious partnerships.
Desire is a irrational reflex and wholly childish emotion. We see it, we want it, we crave and desire it. Ironically, our desires are mostly undesirable. What we desire does not serve us but once we taste the fruit of our unwholesome desires we often let them go. Desire is the poison in our garden of Eden and we should aim to banish it before we are forsaken.
Control is the evil twin of desire. Once we start desiring then we seek to control. Control is a myth. There’s not much we can control from the weather to the people we love and live with.  Control is a waste of energy and the only control we can truly indulge in is self-control. Any other type of control is abuse.
Puppet on a string

Possessiveness is the third member of this sinister trinity. This is an illusion. We cannot possess anything since ownership is a myth. People imagine that they own houses and cars when, in fact, they are owned by them. That is the uncommon explanation for the way people boast about bricks and mortar and pieces of metal.  We do not possess anything; we are only stewards of a variety of things that have become either blessings or curses. The idea that you could possess a person is laughable and the first sign of insanity. The deluded among us think that they own their husbands/wives and children – ha, bloody ha!
Be careful in your choice of a significant other since this  troublesome trio will form an alliance to drag you down. They’ll tell you with glee that you don’t a stand a chance against them but I say battle on, sister! This is war and though your conscience might object I say let’s do it. There’s nothing holy about this trinity!


Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Quitting is not for losers

Until you quit...tomorrow never comes
It takes courage to quit. That why the majority shy away from it. A great many people just don’t have what it takes to quit.
Quitting is hard. Potential quitters think it’s a weakness but once you actually do it you begin to realise that it’s a strength. Quitting is losing the comfort zone whether it’s a job or relationship.
Quitting a job is probably the hardest. Money is  security and losing an income is a terrifying thought.  The thought that we have enough self-worth to find another job or the confidence to think that we might do our own business (and be a success at it) never enters our head. Such is the esteem that we hold ourselves in!
It’s no different in relationships. Despite the fact that we are embroiled in a host of negative associations be it with a wife/husband/partner/girlfriend/boyfriend/brother/sister/friend we do not seem willing to let go of the anger and resentment.
To my mind, quitting is easier and staying is hard. Many people see it the other way around. There’s almost a martyr-like commitment to something that is beyond repair. What is not clearly understood is that we have to fix ourselves before we can fix anything else. Our self-esteem must be repaired before we be an effective partner in any relationship. Insecure people do not make good bedfellows though birds of feather will flock together. The rituals of trying to change the other person is an interesting one but one that’s doomed to fail. 
QUIT and be a winner!
Quitting does not often make people feel like winners but they are. Once you’ve walked away from an unhappy situation, be it a job or intimate relationship, you will understand that it was the kindest thing to yourself and the other person. This type of quitting involves losing the recriminations, poor excuses and the bad atmospheres. To quit you have to be honest with yourself. Facing your fears takes guts and that’s what makes you a winner!


Monday, 6 June 2011

A tale of two students.....or why it's all too easy to have a nervous breakdown

On a high......
She was the best of students and the worst of students.
Student A came from a high achieving background. Her father was a high court judge and her mother a city barrister. She was expected to follow in their illustrious footsteps so naturally she applied to one of the top universities Student A had no siblings so she was lavished with attention.Her parents supported her talents by ensuring she developed in a wide range of disciplines from activity holidays to work experience in the most prestigious firms. She completed her law degree and was headhunted by an eminent  chambers (naturally, family connections helped). Though she was progressing in her chosen field, she was working a 100 hour week and never had time for a social life. She had a healthy income, a luxury apartment, domestic help, a convertible, holidays abroad but she was lonely. One day, due to pressure of a high powered career she had a nervous breakdown. She was thirty five years old.

On a low....
Student B came from a modest, working class background. Her father was a factory worker and her mother a nurse. She had two younger brothers, one born with a disability, whom she had to help her mother take care of. She was an extremely bright student with a good ear for music.  Sadly her father had to retire on grounds of ill health and the family’s finances took a turn for the worse. Her mother too another job and became ever more reliant on her to help take care of the house. Student B became very depressed as her responsibilities at home increased. She couldn’t concentrate on her studies and failed her exams. Since there was little support at home and university was just a distant dream she had a nervous breakdown. She was eighteen years old.
The moral of these stories is that your personal circumstances either make you or break you – very often it’s the latter. Money does not enter the equation since the pursuit of this alone will take you down a rocky road. Wealth is not a guarantee of success though it will create the illusion of security. Those who say you can be wealthy and miserable do not understand that the human spirit is not built for it. Sometimes we rise above our circumstances but sometimes it’s beyond us. Circumstances have nothing to do with success though mental health does. When emotional support is weak then success is a much harder reach – not impossible – but it takes the strongest ones to push through the psychological barriers.


Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Beauty and the Beast

 The beauty of the soul attracts the beast of human nature - this is an unpleasant truth.
The beauties of this world are born into less than beautiful circumstances. In fact, they are born to beasts disguised as parents, siblings, relatives and friends.
These souls are pure and gentle and yet they come into contact with very few of their own kind.
The beastly qualities of man pursue their innocence and attempt to sully the buds of their purity as they struggle to grow.

Trampling on her dreams
Beast is jealous of Beauty's charisma and charm.  
Beast is the anger that seeks to cause harm
Beauty is a rare fragrance that floods the senses
Beast plots carefully to break down her defences
Beauty lies in fresh meadows with flowers in her hair.
Beast lies with bitterness in the heart of his lair

Beauty is softness, style and grace. Beauty smiled sweetly upon Beast's twisted face.
Beauty is a force quite divine; she cannot be bought for trinkets or wine
Beauty is courage under fire; but Beast would lure her into the mire
Beauty dwells in the house of her soul; Beast breaks the tender heart he once stole
Beauty is content and does not crave; Beast took her hand and made her a slave
Beauty is patient even in capture; soon Beast’s mind was tamed by her heavenly rapture
Beauty’s laughter fell like drops of rain; onto the Beast’s hardened heart full of pain
Beauty is the mirror that tells no lies; she saw the beauty of her soul through a Beast’s eyes
Beauty is wild and free

Beauty is the light in the darkness and there is not enough darkness to put out her light.

To all you beauties out there....shine on!