Thursday, 23 January 2014

Half Lived Life

Half Lived Life…….or reasons to be cheerful – PART 1

As I enter my half century there’s a lot to reflect on.
What has got me through the last 50?
An indomitable spirit no less!

So here’s a potted history of the story of my life:

Years 0-5

 I’m born…..8 weeks after a catastrophic event that rocked the world……the assassination of JFK….if I had any notions of the world being a safe place it was knocked out of me then! Adjusting and adapting to a rollercoaster lifestyle which I’m completely obilivous of. In this stage of my life, I exchange a tropical landscape (akin to paradise) for the colder shores of the Northern Hemisphere so snow is a new experience! I sample the delights of my first school and realise that I love learning!

Years 5-10

Reality bites……and I’m learning things that life is not a bowl of cherries! Parental conflict inhibits their childrens’ growth but this appears to be the destiny prescribed; so layers of fear and sadness build up in young hearts. At this stage, I try out my second and third schools as we return to a political battlefield (aka “Paradise”) and brother no. 3 arrives. Paradise is not so pretty so we return to freezing temperatures and hearts to match!

Years 10-15

I discover a flair for writing and while away the hours (that are not filled up with responsibility and chores) by writing poetry and bits of fiction. Learning is still a great adventure but adventure has its fraught moments! Teenage angst and depression kicks in and so it’s the start of the worst wonder years and I wonder if I’ll ever grow …into a graceful swan!! Books become my refuge and spending time at the library is a highlight!

Years 15-20

The swan makes an appearance but low self esteem prevents me from truly appreciating my worth. I lose myself in my insecurities and familial dysfunction but keep a smile pasted on my face….so I fool everyone but myself. People-pleasing is my default setting so I become mediocre by burying my light under a bushel. Whilst I believe myself to be too weak and inadequate to chase after my dreams, I bump into a pipe dream that is merely an illusion and on the way to becoming a full blown nightmare!

Years 20-25

The world is certainly not my oyster. No oyster could thrive in the murky depths of my mind…. and my soul is crushed under the weight of the world on my shoulders. Just as well, since I choose vegetarianism as a healthy option.  I get hitched and have Baby no. 1 who is adorable and as perfect as he needs to be. Motherhood is life-changing and I take to it like a duck to water (responsible people do!) and there’s plenty to smile about!

Years 25-30

Into each life some rain has to fall but this is torrential! I’m starting to see the wood from the trees and it’s not picturesque. Imperfectly perfect is all I can say about this period. I learn things I’d rather forget but this is the character building stage when I have to take the “slings and arrows” of what fate’s dished out (or so I think!).

Years 30-35

Wow – two more babies in this era and they’re both all I could imagine and want. I’m a blissful mother as I have managed to produce a mini-me (daughter) too and that’s a good feeling. But the clouds are never far away and I start growing some courage….deep within tiny shoots develop….and I water and feed them day by day. I also feed my mind good books and endeavour to keep myself in good company but that’s not proving to be easy!

Years 40-45

A period of confident growth. I’ve analysed my life choices and found that they were based on fear and sadness so what good can come of that? Now I come into my own, I grab at opportunities and take “the road less travelled”. I’m relieved to find that it’s not as arduous as I first thought. My body may be tired but my soul’s rested and I experience freedom and (god forbid!) fun! Challenges are the making (not the breaking) of me and my unbound spirit soars.

Years 45-50

I love life – what a revelation! I can (almost) do as I please and not please anyone. My inner resources are strong as I become solution-orientated. Problems come and….go……and I try to see the lesson before I jump into depressive mode. My heart’s light (body needs work) but hey I’m thriving and surviving. I’m ending this half century (and starting a new one) strong.

At this stage of my life:

I’m grateful (for everything I’ve learnt the hard way)

I’m free to be myself (except when I choose not to be)

I’m solvent (most of the time)

I’m in good shape (when I don’t over-indulge)

I even believe in miracles (in fact, I am a miracle!)


Life has taught me that it’s short and I need to pay attention to the details – like me, myself and I - and “attention must be paid”……to my mind and my soul…..purity matters.

So here’s to the next 50 years of a glass half full……may my cup runneth over! 














Thursday, 16 January 2014

Little Big Me

In the world of ego, we all walk a little taller, speak and even shout, assert and possibly respect ourselves too. In the real world, we have to mind ourselves and the “rules” that we deign to live by. Inside our cerebral worlds, we  cope, manage,  and even carve out a little time for day dreaming. That’s when our thoughts go wandering; sauntering along the byways and highways of our mental asphalt and bitumen.  

We all travel mentally in unique ways. Some take the scenic route and  some while away the hours in memory lane or in a fantasy land far from life’s dramas. Some insist on taking a long stop gap indulging themselves in looking backwards  (rose spectacled fashion). Some take the low road to depression and despair so great that they have to remain on the hard shoulder and cry on it. Some of us selflessly look out for our fellow travellers and gently nudge them if they’re going the wrong way. Some travellers are just plain old mean bandits and feel the need to deprive you of your life and liberty.

The id, ego and super ego has been well documented by eminent psychologists and certainly Freud is its greatest exponent. I don’t wish to dwell on Mr Freud’s illustrious findings but my own as I have encountered them in my struggle to become a bigger and better version of myself.

A sensitive ego is easily crushed and rarely flourishes in a difficult, emotional environment but it doesn’t get to choose the where, when or how of its origins. This ego flounders through the inability to attract a higher love so it is not often nurtured and becomes hyper sensitive to life. The sensitive ego responds in two ways to early neglect – it curls up and dies (maturing into a watered down version of self) or it goes on a rampage. This is when it goes on a tour of destruction and leaves its victims in the ditches and way-bys.  It learns to inflict pain and revel in the pleasure of torture.

This ego is damaged and any hope of salvaging is remote…..not impossible…..but surely a super-human (and noble) undertaking. This ego has negative mind speak rattling around in its head and the low self esteem it acquires makes it want to entrap another weaker ego. Green eyed jealousy  That greed-eyed monster, jealousy, develops in an egoist’s lair and his empty mind can be happy when he sees another’s pain.

This darkness of mind is attracted to the bright and cheerful spirit; those who lighten another burden and cast their light upon an ignorant path. Sometimes a dark ego can lighten up once it finds its missing jigsaw piece but, inevitably, it can also feel naked and ugly in the light.

An exposed ego is trouble. It can be a false friend and a malevolent force. When this ego gets into a relationship that’s when it’s wrath is unleashed. It’s fury and rancour on legs so batten down the hatches if you see it coming. Trying to negotiate with this level of dysfunction, even by plainly ignoring it will not do any good. Make no mistake, your life is in danger so get the hell out!

Marianne Williamson said: “It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.”

To paraphrase I would suggest that when the light of optimism and naievete is shone into a dark heart, a car crash ensues. It’s true that “shrinking” your own ego to accommodate an oversized one is not a healthy option but how do you deal with the force and brutality?

Winding up dead or in hospital is a logical conclusion. Is it worthwhile to pursue redemption for the unholy? Might the loss of your life or maimed body serve as a learning experience for others?

I fear that the answer is probably affirmative. Good and bad things happen to any ego but the weakest ones will believe that one nasty turn deserves another.

We all want to grow and follow the right paths but the ego cannot distinguish. The ego is selfish and judgmental; it wants what it wants and believes whatever it wants to. Perhaps one a solution for a smooth ride is to find an ego to rival yours. If yours is big, contain it and if yours is small, keep it that way.
I was a flower.....before your ego trampled on me!

I want to be big in my own eyes – in my own way and style- and let others egos see it as they please!

I’m comfortable being myself -  little, old me for now – and I’m expecting the best of myself for what is to be.



Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Revolutions and resolutions

Each New Year we make resolutions. Resolutions are something that we make a decision about – we eat so we diet…..we smoke so we quit…..we walk so we run…..we collect so we de-clutter…..we spend so we save.

Resolutions are simple but our mental and emotional systems are complex. We can’t shift our mental gears quick enough to move our butts. Our emotions are so unhealthy that we can’t avoid the tempting Danish, cheesecake or barbecued spare ribs. Artificial stimulants are appealing as they seem to give us confidence and make us “one of the crowd”.  Shopping is the biggest crowd puller and it’s easy to get hooked into the “I love a bargain” brigade. Who can’t love pretty useless things that deplete our savings?!

Resolutions are for the weak-willed as they can be broken and re-made. Flawed as humans are, we love to break our resolves and turn off the self-discipline. Discipline is hard work so why do it? We want to but we just can’t stick to the game plan. There’s a myriad of distractions – a busy social life, clamouring spouses and children, online activities, work that can fill up any available time slot and even plain, old depression……we’re depressed about feeling so overloaded!

What’s required is not a quiet resolve but a loud, all singing and dancing revolution! A revolution can really clear away the cobwebs and radical measures applied to self are far more effective. A revolution is just an idea that’s come of age. It’s like a simmering pot of stew that either burns dry or boils over.

Within us all, is a mini volcano waiting to erupt. Our brains might be programmed for routine but our spirits revel in rebellion. Doesn’t it feel wonderful when you throw a sickie and do something delicious like taking a few good books to bed? Isn’t it uplifting to think that the world won’t come to an end just because we’ve forgotten to do the laundry and make sandwiches? Procrastination is a form of revolution; we are reactionaries against the very systems that provide structure and support. Yes we need some of the same old, same old but a lot of it needs refreshing (and not everyone’s thoughts are fresh!).

Divorce is major rebellion and an “enough is enough” antidote to lame self-esteem. When you’ve lived in quiet desperation, hoping and praying that things will get better….and they don’t….then you know it’s time to revolt. What’s really revolting is putting up with abuse and to keep on making excuses for it!

Revolutions are messy and that’s why most people shy away. The emotional cost of protest and establishment of a new order takes determination, persistence and courage. Revolutions are not for the budget-conscious; the financial costs can break the bank so the financially astute among us will choose a resolution over a revolution any day!

Revolution, when it doesn’t involve hundreds and thousands of devotees, is about a change of environment – be it spiritual or physical. Our physical location can be a hindrance or a help to achieve our goals. A cramped room in an attic can provide the stimulus for the production of great novels (Charles Dickens had great success in his!).
There’s not too many famous writers, inventors, sculptors who’ve lived in opulence and travelled in style. However, following a revolution of spirit - where they dared, cared, shared or even became plain scared – (artists known as the movers and shakers of their time) changed the world.

Revolutions are necessary to make us sit up and think. It puts “change” at the top of the agenda and a change is surely what we all need. Resolution is the strait-laced cousin of revolution and can be a way of seeing things more clearly. Whether it’s resolve or full blown revolution, a new year is a time to take stab at being or doing something new…….so just do it!



Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Money is the route to all happiness!

Money is a great enabler; it allows people to come together in ways that might not otherwise be possible. Money is vital if you need to throw a party….it keeps the conversation and the drinks flowing. 

It brings people together – the chattering classes – to dress up and make a show of themselves and their proud achievements – a new Mercedes with  personalized number plates, a stunning designer outfit with matching Michael Kors handbag and the all important plus one arm candy. 

The well dressed man or woman is nothing without his/her entourage of people pleasers. They smile, air kiss and show off a dazzling set of porcelain veneers. Money talks, struts its stuff and shakes it’s little tush!

Money is also a great disabler. It can tear your relationships apart. You don’t need to look further for evidence than the experiences of recent lottery winners. Most couples who win in excess of $ 20 million find themselves going their separate ways post winning. This is because a sudden  large cash injection forces a relationship reality check – Are we happy? Can we be happier? Is this the happiest we’ve ever been?

Money can’t answer any of the deeper questions of life. Money just provides temporary respite from the personal ethical dilemmas that we wrestle with day by day. Exotic travel is an antidote to the “same old routine” syndrome and travel, unburdens the mind and broadens the waistline. Your lump sum will have you looking more like a lump (of lard) since there’ no need to scrimp on food, drink, houses, cars or much else. Yes, you can show frugality the door and even shove it through the window!!

This is where it gets dicey. If you’re conservative by nature then you’ll find yourself wanting to bury your new found fortune in a hole to keep it safe. Misers will have the hardest time of all since they’re not good spirited enough to divide and share. Bon viveurs will hire a cruise ship and invite all of their family and friends for the largest non-stop party at sea. Afterwards they might regret it once squabbles and spats ensue as hangovers kick in.

Money is a friend to the generous  – those whose pockets and hearts are deep – in good times or bad. When you can make a mental list of the people and charities that could use a few hand-ups then money is not the root of evil. Money in the hands of the principled people of integrity and wisdom  is a win-win situation for giver and receiver. Hearts are warmed as love is shared in a myriad of thoughtful ways – from a surprise bouquet of favourite flowers to buying a new kitchen or paying off a mortgage or two.

Money does not have to control you if you’re in control of yourself. When you lack focus and discipline money is a dangerous playmate! Financial independence is a worthy goal though too often it can lead us on to selfish paths. Money is as destructive as it is productive and it is no respecter of good character. 

Money does not often fall into the hands of the kind, compassionate, gentle or well balanced individuals. Those souls are often destined to be on the wrong side of the coin and their fate is to gaze and sigh as they watch the “lucky ones” fritter it away.

Those of you who’ve just emerged from a tight (not white!) Christmas secretly long for a windfall to chase away the January blues and to allow a spree in the New Year sales. Money can make a lot of dreams come true but it can also birth as many miseries. 

If your glass is half full (and mine is!) so is your bank balance but a new year is a time for improvement. Whatever money is, I want more of it so that I can put it to some good use. For many years, I didn't concentrate on it as much as I should have, so I want money on my team in 2014. 

So as we grow in spirit, let’s also grow in wealth…being rich is not just about money…. but it sure helps lighten some of life’s loads….and I'd like to find a clearer route to a happier new me!!