the path

I have been moving along a path. Sometimes it twists and turns in unexpected directions. Sometimes I can’t see where it leads. And sometimes I wonder if I’m going in circles. I occasionally look back, and think about the footsteps … Continue reading

stop. look. feel. wonder. imagine.

All things come to an end. That is the cyclical nature of life. The sun sets and a new dawn breaks. The tombstone is laid and the moss grows to cover it. I look into the mirror and I see wrinkles, grey hairs, and worry. But I also see smile lines, a knowing look, and someone who is growing more comfortable in their skin every day.

This life will not last forever. We are moving through time so slowly, so steadily, and we rarely pause to see how far we’ve come. Stop. Look. Feel. Wonder. Imagine. Maybe you have a long journey ahead of you. Maybe you are coming to the end of the path. Take a moment to be grateful, and to remember the good choices you made, the things you are proud of. This too shall pass. What is next may not be clear at this moment. But you will take it in your stride.

Keep your loving heart open. Trust in yourself and nature. And be.

gathering creative energy

So much of the time in this life of ours, we are go, go, go! It’s not always a bad way to be, and it’s not always a good way to be. As ever, the key thing seems to be … Continue reading

going somewhere

Sometimes it feels like you’re being pulled along by an underground current. You’re walking in one direction but you feel like you’re actually walking upside down, or inside out, or trying to swim up through the sky, or trying to tunnel down through the ground.

It’s like when you’re sitting on a train that you’ve never caught before, and you’re waiting for it to leave the station. You have an idea of which way it will go that may be based on nothing more than your own innate sense of direction, an internal compass that you’ve been unknowingly relying on. Then suddenly, the train’s engine spurs into action and it lurches forward. It’s going the wrong way! your alarmed, baffled, and disorientated mind reports to you; blinking, spinning, trying to make sense of something for which there is no seemingly rational explanation.

You then realise that the train can’t be wrong. Why would it be? The train is going exactly where it needs to be. You’re wrong. Your feelings are playing tricks on you, and for no good reason.

Next time you’re sitting on that platform, you know exactly what to expect, and it doesn’t feel like aliens are using giant, invisible magnets to somehow interfere with your world, dragging you along an unplanned route of their making, without your knowledge. This time, you know which way you’re going, and you feel calm. It may not be the direction you dreamt of, not the perfect path you hoped to create, but equally, it doesn’t throw you, and you don’t feel the need or the desire to question it. It just is.

And once you’re able to embrace that, you can relax, and turn your free mind to other things … such as your next train trip.

sunset

Sunset can be the most beautiful part of the day. Brilliant coral hues seep into one another, clothing the sky in other worldly beauty. A period of time is ending, melting away before your eyes. Sometimes it makes you stop and catch your breath, whilst other times the sun slips away without us even noticing. When we do pause to really absorb a glorious sunset, we can be struck by a sudden moment of poetry, a desire to voice joy, sadness, longing, or gratitude. A lot of the time those feelings well up within us and then go by unexpressed.

Now that the sun is setting on this year, I find myself reflecting, looking back to see what I gained, where I fell down, where I could do better. This type of reflection is often saved for January, but I have to say that when the new year begins, I want to hit the ground running. I don’t want to be looking back. I feel as though if I do that, I’ll already be starting out behind.

In 2012 I learned that life is not a race to the finish line. So often as another calendar gets ticked off, I feel panic. Have I done everything I wanted to do, have I reached the peak of achievement that I was working up to? At some point this year, whilst well meaning yet anxiety fueling thoughts whirred relentlessly about my mind, something inside me was getting wound up so tightly that it finally broke and splintered in all directions. I felt sad, really sad. Like nothing I could do was good enough, and I was never going to ‘make it’. (What IS making it? That’s a whole different story…) It was quite a low. I thought, I should probably quit music, quit writing, quit being creative. Why continue with something that hurts me so much? But I realised the only thing that was hurting me was me. I piled my plate high with so many different hopes and ambitions and dreams. I had lost sight of a strong, healthy, grounded foundation that I needed to have rock solid in order to give those hopes and dreams the chance that they really deserve. My heart, my mind, my spirit. I had pushed them out of the way in my haste to conquer all, to be successful, to be… happy?

Since then I went back to taking baby steps. Bit by bit I’ve been shrugging off my home-made pressure cape – that thing gets heavy don’t you know – and being gentler with myself. I have so much to be grateful for, and although I have a lot more to learn, I feel that I have gained in experience and insight. This year has brought wonderful people (and cats!) to me, and beautiful relationships that I already had have flourished. Life and death has found me. I’ve said goodbye to my Grandpa and my Pop, and I’ve considered my own mortality. Times have been tough but I’m still here, and I’m getting to know myself better each day. I’ve written songs and stories and shared them with others. It has brought me a lot of joy. People have been kind to me, they have been so generous with their time, wisdom, and companionship. They have given to me freely and without reserve, and I hope I have been able to give back to them with just as much goodwill.

So, now that things are drawing to a close, I’m taking a moment to say ‘Thank you’. It has been a year full of many ups and downs but I have lived, learned, and loved. As the sun sets on 2012, I will allow myself to stop and catch my breath, and take in the majesty of life’s ebb and flow.

Merry Christmas!Sunset

an afternoon with the Dalai Lama

A couple of months ago, I was fortunate browsing through a newsletter from the Royal Albert Hall, and noticed the Dalai Lama was going to be speaking at an event in June. I studied Tibet in high school and have always been intrigued and inspired by this peaceful, forgiving, and lovely man. I snapped up a ticket and marked it on the calendar.

Yesterday was the day. I caught the bus over to South Kensington and walked up to the ever wonderful venue that is the Royal Albert Hall. It was abuzz with lots of people still queuing at the box office, one lady plaintively asking around to see if anyone had a spare ticket. No one rose their hands and I quickly went inside to find my place, feeling sympathetic, but grateful.

As I work part-time at the moment, I had gone for the cheapest ticket. My expectations were suitably met when I walked up many, many flights of stairs to find the gallery.

This wasn’t even the top.

I made my way to a suitable spot. The hall was full to the brim, and there were all sorts of people there. Mothers with young children, business men in suits, twenty somethings and hippies, and people from a similar generation to the man we were all waiting to see.

The hall ceiling. Quite irrelevant to this post, but I do love it.

The afternoon began with a Tibetan musical group full of young and old alike, in place to sing and perform with traditional Tibetan instruments. Then the Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, walked on stage. It was quite a surreal moment, and I became unexpectedly, yet abruptly, emotional. It was wonderful to see this living example of wisdom and kindness, and determination, there, in the same room as me (albeit a rather large one). The thousands of people in the hall stood and applauded him as he waved and smiled, before taking a seat angled towards the performers and away from the crowd. The music began and it was really special. At the end, the Dalai Lama thanked the group and stood with them, clasping their hands graciously, genuinely happy to be a part of it.

For the next hour or so after that the stage featured two single chairs, one for the Dalai Lama, and one for his translator, who he sometimes turned to when he couldn’t quite find the right word. The translator looked so appreciative and pleased to be there with the Dalai Lama, I don’t think it really mattered that the rest of us were also present! I think this is the effect he has on everyone.

The things I took away from the event were his passion to bring about worldwide, positive change, his confidence and ease of being, his peacefulness. He was never rushed, never hurried. Even at the end when answering questions, he wanted to stretch the time available to the maximum, to stay a little longer, to help enlighten others a little more. There was also a lot of laughter, and for a man who has witnessed the tragedies that he has, and fought such a long and hard fight for the freedom of his people and their country, the fact that he is so joyful is a testament to his amazing nature.

In short, it was a special afternoon; one I won’t forget. I left the hall along with many others and listened to small groups of people chatting about it in the street as I walked back to South Kensington station. I wondered what the world would be like, full of hundreds, thousands, millions of individuals ready to embrace peace for all people, or even just for themselves. Now that’s something to hope for.

The Dalai Lama on-stage with the Tibetan music ensemble. You can tell I was quite far from the front!

a state of positivity

There are many people out there who realise the important link between our emotional well being and our physical well being, and also the link between keeping positive and achieving goals.

“How did you do it?” people ask famous authors, actors, scientists, entrepreneurs, politicians. “I believed that I could,” is often the answer.

I am convinced that the ‘glass is half full’ theory is powerful. Equally powerful, is its opposite and perfect nemesis: ‘the glass is half empty’. How can we keep our glass half full? Are some people born with a magical, full near to the brim glass? Are these people destined to succeed? If somebody does not have a lucky start in life, does that mean they’re doomed to failure? I don’t think so. There’s plenty of evidence around to show that none of those things are true.

One birthday, a couple of years ago, my parents gave me a lovely card. The inscription reads: She’s the kind of person who looks at a cloud and says to herself, “There’s a rainbow coming in just a little while.” Then she kicks off her shoes and dances in the puddles until the sun comes out again. I found it so sweet and touching; it still means a lot. I have it pinned on the inside of my wardrobe door. At the time they gave it to me, I was at quite a low. I hated my job but felt trapped. I honestly was a shadow of the person I am today. I penned my song Kaleidoscope, which has this lyric: Freedom is the whispered hope, longing is the game. But I hold the Kaleidoscope and every slide is blame. Reading their special card made me want to cry, because I didn’t feel like I was that person any more. But it also made me want to rekindle that part of myself again.

Now almost two years on, I’m in a much happier place. Suddenly there seems to be a lot more time to do the things that I want to do, and yet also more stillness just to be, to enjoy simple moments. I feel like I’m finally moving towards my goals at a steadier pace, and I do believe that in time, I will realise them.

It’s not always easy. Sometimes I have moments of anger, of self-righteousness (I’m probably having a big self-righteous moment right now in fact 🙂 ). Sometimes I give in to those moments too; I become aware of their presence and then really wallow in them. I noticed myself do that twice this week. And it didn’t make me feel better afterwards. It made me feel worse. More angry, more unmotivated. Fortunately, I snapped out of it. But it’s much nicer not to go there in the first place.

I saw something today which inspired me. I’ll share it with you in just a moment, but first I wanted to mention some other things that help me culture positivity in my life. I have a few favourite blogs that I look at regularly: http://www.designismine.blogspot.co.uk/, http://www.goinghometoroost.com/ and http://down—to—earth.blogspot.com.au/. I love them for their inspirational value and tidbits of advice. When I need soothing words of wisdom, I turn to a blog by one of my meditation teachers: http://consciouslivingblog.com/ and when I want to feel proactive, I turn to Robin Sharma: http://www.robinsharma.com/. Of course I find inspiration in the real world too, in lots of different ways, but these are places I can direct you to in the click of a button.

And now, for today’s moment of inspiration: http://media.smh.com.au/selections/parkinsons-and-me-michael-j-fox-3324948.html . This Michael J Fox interview made me admire him even more than I already did. He talks about coping with Parkinsons, how it physically feels, but he also talks a lot about counting your blessings, and keeping optimistic. It made me want to stop and count my blessings too.

How does your cup feel today? Half full, or half empty?