Sunday Everyday

The Greater the Love, the Deeper the Grief

The most fundamental truth of grief is this: we grieve because we love. Love and grief are inextricably linked. If we did not love, our hearts would not be broken by death. The greater our love, the deeper and more profound our grief.

Grief is the most equal-opportunity experience in all of life. It is the great leveler of emotions, place, and time. For at some age, at some time, everyone will know the sorrow and pain of grief. Grief is indifferent to our race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation. We’re not emotionally insulated from grief because of where we live, how educated we are, or how much money we have or don’t have. Grief doesn’t care whether we’re dressed in a business suit, a blue uniform, a hoodie, a tee shirt or a clergy robe.

The love of grief is passionate — we cherish and memorialize the one lost to us in death. We remember, and will never forget. The love of grief is compassionate — it reaches out, reconciles, restores and builds up. This love is why we endure the suffering of loss and persevere in hope. Despite every evidence to the contrary, love never fails.

When the reality of senseless violence and tragedy overwhelm our individual and collective hearts, grief leaves us reeling, especially as we struggle with the “why?” We want to make sense of it all, yet there are no real answers. What we experience instead is grief, the intuitive response of our mind, our body and our spirit to the death of one we love. And often we find within the love of our grief the best response to life’s worst tragedies. Without fully understanding the “why,” we seek some redemptive value, so that death will not have been in vain. We harness our grief-born love first to change our own heart, then slowly the world. And if not the whole world all at once, we start where we are to influence for good, trusting that our small ripple of love shared with others will one day become an exponential sea change.

If we scrutinize the faces of survivors, friends, colleagues, and loved ones photographed at their moment of most intense grief, we see clearly the inestimable shock and sorrow of personal, individual grief. When we read beyond the headlines, we’re reminded that each life has its own unique story and that the lives of hundreds, perhaps even thousands of people — neighbors, school friends, church communities — are unalterably affected by the untimely death of one they know and love.

We are forever changed by death. Our experience of grief may leave us disillusioned, fearful, and hate-filled. Or grief may leave us convinced of the goodness of life with a greater capacity for love despite the certainty that evil is present in the world.

In the face of intentional violence and death, those of us who are helpless bystanders are forced to stretch, to think and feel beyond ourselves. And so we join hands and hearts with reverence for life and spiritual respect for the mystery of death to grieve in unison each individual soul — the fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, wives, husbands and all other relationships of spirit and bond that connect us to one another as divinely created human beings.

Julie Yarbrough is the author of Beyond the Broken Heart, a grief ministry program, Grief Light, and other grief resources. Website: www.beyondthebrokenheart.com 

“We ourselves shall be loved for awhile and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.”
Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey

A Dummies Guide to the Bible

1 THE BIBLE

Every writing which is written by The Spirit is profitable for teaching, for correction, for direction and for a course in righteousness 2 Timothy 3:16 Aramaic Bible in Plain English

Bible reading is at the heart of this Way of Life Community of Aidan and Hilda Way of Life

Traveller        I am drawn to this way of life but new to it. Why should it include daily Bible reading? I thought the Bible was an out-date book.

Guide             Because the Bible is a collection of writings which have passed the test of constant use, and which, although they lay bare the worst things human nature is capable of, they give glimpses of ways in which God speaks, inspires, challenges and unfolds divine purposes.

Traveller        Tell me about the Bible. What is it?

Guide             It is the most published book in the world and vast numbers of commentaries have been written about it. I am not an expert. There are experts in Hebrew and Greek (the original languages of the Bible), the cultures of Bible lands, brilliant theologians and profound mystics who can help us.

Traveller        OK, but please will you give me a Dummies Guide to start me off.

Guide             All branches of the Christian Church agree that at least sixty-six ‘books’ comprise ‘the canon’ (agreed list) of Scripture. These sacred writings written over two millennia gradually gained recognition as having innate authority. In 367 Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, stated that the list of 27 books that we call the New Testament was ‘canonised’, that is, that a ruling had been given by senior church leaders as to their inspired authority.

Traveller       What’s the difference between the New Testament and the other books?

Guide             The others are about The Old Covenant (or Testament) God made with one people. The last twenty-seven are about the New Covenant (or Testament) God made through Jesus Christ with all people.

Traveller        So Timothy, in today’s Scripture verse, meant that these writings before the New Testament were inspired?

Guide             Yes, but we believe that the same applies to the New Testament.

Reflection

The Divine Scripture is a sea, containing in it deep meanings, and an abyss of prophetic mysteries; and into this sea enter many rivers. There are Sweet and transparent streams, cool fountains too there are, springing up into life eternal… Various then are the streams of the sacred Scriptures. There is in them a first draught for you, a second, and a last. Bishop Ambrose in a letter to Constantius 379.

Copyright © 2018 Way Marks Of Life, All rights reserved.

Way Marks Of Life

142 McClelland Ave

Lara, Vic 3212

Australia

What is Wellbeing?

What is Wellbeing?  This article is an edited extract from The Art Of Wellbeing by Meredith Gaston,

A joyous and fulfilling life is built on a foundation of health, self-care and living in line with nature, writes Meredith Gaston, in her new book, The Art of Wellbeing.

What is wellbeing?

I would describe wellbeing as the holistic experience of feeling energised, comfortable, connected and inspired. Our personal wellbeing is cultivated by all the unconditionally kind, wise and compassionate choices we make to nurture our health and happiness. These choices encompass our thoughts and our actions, our self-talk and our speech, the foods we eat, the ways we care for our bodies, and the support we provide for ourselves and each other.

What we choose to do with our time sculpts our wellness and matters greatly. When we invite the simple and relaxing practices of gratitude and mindfulness into our daily lives, we begin to sense the willingness of our minds and bodies to collaborate fully with us in the most positive, transformative ways.

By living intentionally, actively choosing love, peace and joy for ourselves and each other in every moment, we come to know a deep sense of wellbeing that creates a simple, unfailing foundation for truly joyous living.

Our thoughts create our worlds by inspiring our attitudes and our moods, our daily choices, self-talk and actions. It is truly empowering to realise that our thoughts are inherently flexible. Even if we have learnt patterns in the past that no longer serve us, it is completely within our power to let them go.

When we live as part of nature, our wellbeing blossoms. Cultivating wellbeing in daily life is a truly joyous and fulfilling commitment. When we nourish our inner gardens each day, we are able to embody and experience the limitless comfort, joy and inspiration we seek.

10 tips for cultivating wellbeing

#1 Choose Joy

Each one of us can actively choose to think thoughts that uplift us, speak words that spread joy, and explore ideas that help us grow. We can choose joy when we do work we love, and do it lovingly. We can choose exercise we enjoy doing, relax in ways that revitalise us, and choose people in our lives whose love and support empower us. When we build our daily lives around choosing joy, we may truly experience radiant wellbeing. We simply make consistently positive, life-affirming choices that light us up from the inside out.

When we choose joy, we see that life is not about sacrifice and deprivation, it is about celebration. When we forgo gruelling exercise regimes, unnecessarily hectic agendas and punishing diets, we may love our way to wellness. Wellbeing is not maintained by punishment or suffering, it is supported by unconditional self-love, passion and positive thinking.

Choosing joy also serves us exceptionally well during any challenging experience. We all have the power to learn and change for the better, growing our compassion, wisdom and gratitude through our personal life experiences. Not only does joy strengthen us to handle stress and adversity as our best selves, it always illuminates the swiftest path back to perspective and composure.

#2 Love the Earth

Our wellbeing is also shaped by the health of our natural environment: the air we breathe, the soil in which our foods are grown, the quality of our water, the health of our oceans, rivers and forests, and the countless magnificent species with whom we share this earth.

In order to connect to the earth, we need to spend more time in nature. Go outside. Put your feet in the sand, the soil, the grass. We live amongst the most varied and magnificent flora and fauna, spectacular mountain ranges, coral reefs, vivid fields of flowers, constellations of stars, creatures great and small. It is a privilege to be here experiencing life on our planet.

Connecting with our Earth is essential. We are part of nature, and her seasons, moods, beauty, uniqueness and splendour mirror our very own. The Sufi poet Rumi reminds us that the entire universe is inside us – how profound this is.

Also, it’s important for us to respect Earth. Recycle, upcycle, compost, walk or ride a bike, take short showers, enjoy candlelight, share tools and helping hands with neighbours, friends and family, grow your own herbs, fruits and vegetables, and mend and make do where possible.

img_4103resize-1140x500#3 Eat real food

Each day, we also have the chance to tune into the immense power of our food choices. Food is sacred, energetic and vibrational. The food we eat has a story, a source and an impact. It also plays a determining role in shaping our health, our energy levels and our moods. Eating mindfully is beneficial and healing for ourselves and our planet. When we eat mindfully we optimise our vitality, contribute to the prevention and reversal of disease, live in harmony with our Earth, and celebrate life.

The magnificent rainbow of fresh fruits and vegetables we have to choose from exemplify the beauty and generosity of Mother Nature’s pantry. Aim for a plant-strong diet that is full of colour and rich in natural vitamins and minerals. Choose organic, seasonal and, ideally, local or homegrown produce wherever possible, and you’ll never have to squint again reading fine print.

Develop a positively loving relationship with food as nourishment. Food is your primary form of medicine, an essential way of healing. It is also an extremely fun, joyous and colourful part of a natural, healthy lifestyle.

Benefits of eating real food include increased energy, sustained vitality, a healthy glow, improved concentration, healthy weight maintenance, stress reduction, decreased inflammation, real satiety, stable blood sugar levels, and balanced hormones and mood.

#4 Simplify

We need a lot less than we realise to be happy. Oftentimes when we accumulate more, we are simply on the search for the feeling of newness, worthiness or happiness that our purchases bring. By taking the time to know ourselves and love ourselves more deeply, we fill the voids we seek to fill in a much less fleeting way and on a far deeper level. Happiness is an inside job.

Living with less allows us to appreciate and value those things we mindfully choose to possess, and focus on the parts of our lives that matter most – our relationships, our experiences, and our natural environment. Opting for minimalism in every respect, we free up precious time, space and energy to use in creative and fulfilling ways each day.

#5 Prioritise self-care 

Self-care is about attending lovingly to our own various needs on a daily basis. In caring for ourselves, we are much better equipped to care for and support others. Self-care includes all the daily ground covered in these 10 tips, including eating regular, nutritious meals each day, drinking plenty of clean water, and creating a routine for the best sleep possible. Exercising, practising relaxation, and taking time to rest and be gentle with ourselves is also essential to daily self-care. When we look after our thoughts, making sure they are supportive, peaceful and uplifting assets for us, we practise the ultimate form of, self-care.

If you are looking for kindness, be kind to yourself as well as others. If you are looking for understanding from others, be compassionate and open minded towards yourself first. If you are looking for peace, be peaceful and bring peace to others. We invite  the relationships, environments and circumstances into our worlds that grow and fulfill us soulfully, and we transform our entire lives for the better.

#6 Rest

Rest and relaxation are essential to our wellbeing. Ensure you experience the best sleep possible by creating a calm and nurturing space in which to rest. Reserve your sleeping space as a tranquil, restful sanctuary. Keep a sleeping routine, aiming to tuck in and rise at the same times each day. We all have unique needs, but eight hours of sleep per night is a healthy, recommended quota for energised living.

Some people find it particularly hard to switch off at the end of the day. Keep electronic devices out of your bedroom and ensure you have as quiet and dark an atmosphere in which to sleep as possible. If you are unable to fall asleep, you might like to follow your breathing or enjoy listening to some quiet and relaxing music. You may also find comfort in a light-hearted audiobook or meditation tape. When restless, write in your journal. Jot down your worries and hurries, and support yourself without fear or impatience to gently and fully switch off.

Quality sleep recharges our batteries for life, healing, protecting and supporting our minds and bodies. If daytime naps or siestas are required, take these lovingly as part of your self-care routine and reap the refreshing benefits. We live in a fast-paced world that too often favours productivity at the expense of rest. Yet when we are rested, we experience greater productivity, mental clarity and performance on every level.

#7 Relax

The study of epigenetics demonstrates how the causes of disease are not solely genetic, and that disease can manifest due to the dietary and lifestyle choices we make. When it comes to the insidious effects of stress on our health, there is an antidote: relaxation. Relaxation is not only a practice but a choice we can all make in any moment. This may sound very simplistic, but it is true. Our lives are composed of a series of choices we make that shape our worlds and experiences. By choosing relaxation, we bring ease and flow to our lives.

Relaxation may be something we need to learn or relearn. Thankfully, there are so many pleasurable and fulfilling ways to walk this path. Practising visualisation and meditations creates a wonderful, simple practice for relaxation in daily life.

Other great ways to embrace relaxation include practising yoga or tai chi, going on gentle walks in nature, lighting candles, enjoying a bath or a massage, listening to relaxing music or enjoying light films, music or books. Creating a relaxing atmosphere around you at home and at work in which you are as comfortable as possible is also key. Our outer worlds should reflect the inner world we seek to create.

#8 Move your body

Love your body into health and fitness by stretching and moving each day. Find a balance of physical activity that suits you while challenging you and keeping you fit, vital and strong.

Exercise provides energy, is essential for our mental health, develops our coordination and fitness, shapes and tones our bodies, detoxifies our systems, improves the quality of our sleep, can be fun and sociable, is a natural antidepressant, and feels really great. Our bodies were designed to move in different ways each day, and it is essential that we honour our bodies’ needs for physical activity. Mixing up your exercise routine circumvents boredom and ensures that your whole body is strengthened and acknowledged.

#9 Hydrate

Many health issues people experience can be traced back to chronic dehydration and remedied simply by drinking ample water. More than half of your body is made of water, and you need to keep replenishing yourself to remain vital. Wake to a tall glass of warm water with a squeeze of lemon, or a dash of apple cider vinegar. Your liver and digestive system love this, and you’ll be hydrating yourself necessarily following your overnight fast. Hydrate steadily throughout the day with good, clean water. Add slices of citrus fruit or cucumber for a little excitement. Intersperse with herbal teas and coldpressed fresh juices if desired. Water your inner garden and blossom!

shutterstock_96206660#10 Connect

While some of us are more extroverted and outgoing than others, we are naturally social beings with a need for connection and relationships. Relationships are the web of our lives, and healthy relationships are necessary for our overall wellbeing. These include bonds between friends, family, colleagues, and lovers, teachers, children, grandchildren and beyond.

Relationships teach us so much by providing spaces in which we can love and be loved, give and receive support, learn and grow. Making a concerted effort to connect with others in our community and world with kindness, compassion and joy contributes to our feelings of belonging and greatly enhances our wellbeing. Our world would be a dramatically different place if we all chose to exercise loving kindness in our relationships and connections with others. Change starts with us. Let us be here for one another to build up, not put down.

Let us take joy in each others’ successes and comfort one another through our hardships. Let us focus on our togetherness rather than our differences. Let us find peace in our connections with one another so that we may all experience love and wellbeing and this life.

This article is an edited extract from The Art Of Wellbeing by Meredith Gaston, published by Hardie Grant Books, RRP $29.99 and is available in stores nationally.

The Rise of Rich Face

Have a look at this picture.  Have a good hard look.  What do you see?

old lady guadalajjara 2

I see a woman who has lived a full and rich life hiding behind a mask of youth.

Is this mask demanded of us?  Do we place it upon ourselves?  Are we so ashamed and afraid of getting older that we hide behind false youth and cosmetic procedures.

I took this photo recently whilst on a trip to Mexico.  It was hanging in the Cultural Institute of Cabanas in Guadalajara.  Undoubtedly the finest place for art in Jalisco.  Once a home for orphaned children it is now home to several art galleries.   Unfortunately I forgot to take down the name of the artist and I wish I knew the year that this was painted.

Once upon a time,  growing old was seen as honourable.  The elderly were revered and held positions of honour in the community.

Today Growing old gracefully is increasingly seen as a failure to make the best of yourself – and even shows a lack of respect for the self and or for others. Some might say that you have “let yourself go”.

One day when I was walking arm in arm with an Aunt, I would have been about 22.  I can clearly remember thinking, “I cant wait to get old…. I will be wise… I will be able to help people… I will be respected and revered”.

Now getting old is seen as a fate worse than death.  For the first time in human history, 

“The young have become a model of emulation for the older population, rather than the other way around,” Richard Harrison

The problem does not stop here.

It is not enough any more just to have youth on your side.  We don’t just worship youth,  we worship the youth of the medias imagination.   Now the pressure is on us to be a ‘perfect youth’.   One that hopefully looks a lot like Jenna Kardashian or Barbie.

Recent studies, have revealed how much this is affecting people – particularly girls of a young age. The Girls’ Attitudes survey has shown how body image worries affect many aspects of young girls lives – stopping them wearing the clothes they like, having their pictures taken, taking part in sport and speaking up in class.

The survey reports that 47% of girls aged 11 to 21 say the way they look “holds them back”, while 69% of girls age seven to 11 feel like they are not good enough.

A recent pilot study has found girls as young as 11 are seeking cosmetic surgery for their genitals. What’s going on?  Andrew Trounson, University of Melbourne

When I was 11 I was obsessed with wanting to be Heidi and living on a mountain with goats, eating cheese and hard bread.  I vaguely recall thinking I had two bottoms but that was the end of it.  I certainly would not have know what a labia was.  

This new pilot study is aimed at understanding why a growing number of Australian girls, as young as 11, are seeking cosmetic surgery on their otherwise normal genitals.

University of Melbourne health researcher Emma Barnard says: “Pictures in textbooks and magazines are stylised or airbrushed, and there is a real lack of understanding about the real range of genital diversity.”

I am sorry, I must live under a rock, but how are tween girls getting access to stylised or airbrushed pictures of their genitals?  

The desire to look picture perfect in today’s camera culture fuels this over-the-top approach to grooming and has extended to our genitals.  The rise in pornography has also given rise to the desire for highly sexualised body shapes and images.

1400489662-StarsDeniedPlasticSurgery_i

 “The selfie has turned an extreme aesthetic that wouldn’t normally be acceptable into something people want on a daily basis,” explains Melissa Gibson, a senior artist for M.A.C Cosmetics. “It doesn’t appear very natural outside of a photograph, but for some women, that synthetic look is now part of the appeal.” Some choose to make their exaggerated features more permanent with the help of injectables.

A recent study by the University of Macquarie has linked the time women spend on Instagram per day with the level of body dissatisfaction they experience. Women are also likely to experience more body image issues when they use social media to compare themselves to celebrity.

These cosmetic procedures have produced the term Rich Face.  This is where women and girls are proud to wear their over exaggerated features as a badge of wealth.  Much like wearing or showing off $500.00 bag or shoes.  It is now a status symbol.

The most common cosmetic procedures sought out by teens:

If teens are facing this pressure,  imagine the pressure on the ancient 30 plus year olds.  

Did you know that Australia has leapt ahead of America regarding cosmetic surgery.  Australians love plastic surgery. That’s $1bn-worth of  love.

Roughly 500,000 cosmetic procedures were carried out last year. That includes 20,000 boob jobs, 8000 breast argumentations , 30,000 liposuction procedures and $350m dollars’ worth of Botox injections. (Reference)

The fastest growing area of cosmetic work is in non-surgical enhancements. In Australia we know that procedures like dermal fillers for cheeks and lips, or anti-wrinkle injections such as Botox, are fast becoming the most popular choice for people looking to enhance their appearance.

In 2015, Australians spent over $1billion on non-surgical cosmetic procedures  – up from $773 million in 2012. (Reference)

The top five most popular procedures are anti-wrinkle injection, fillers, laser and IPL, breast augmentation and reduction and liposuction.  At the same time the cosmetic surgery industry is booming, eating disorders are the number one killer of any mental health disease in Australia. (Reference)

I am exhausted just writing this article.  The pressure to keep up, look better, look younger is horrific.

Don’t get me wrong,  I indulge in beauty procedures.  I have my eyebrows tinted, my hair dyed, my body and facial hair plucked and waxed.   I spend money on cosmetics and moisturizer.  But how far is too far?  When are we able to feel happy and safe in our own spotty, wrinkled skin.

What happened to the days when wrinkles and flabby skin were a sign of wisdom and respect.  Why are we repulsed by the road map of life etched upon the faces of our elderly? I used to love sitting on my nanas knee and playing with her flappy skin and looking for the red lights on her arms.

Red lights which I now have.

Red lights called cherry angiomas or senile angiomas.  Senile... that is a very strong word.  I will continue to call them red lights.

What happened to loving fresh faces and clean skin?

In 1970 – this was the face of cover girl.

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Move into the 1980’s and 1990’s – clean and fresh becoming replaced by sophisticated party looks.

2000 fresh skin is still looking good……..

59d93a9ee71d4334651b3b13a4296937--makeup-ads-angela-lindvall

Fast Forward to 2016 and Cover Girl has its first guy as a spokesperson and we begin to see the shift to contouring and shape changing in makeup.

2018 and Cover Girl is now full into face shaping, contouring and  full features.

What am I trying to say?  

Fashion always comes, goes and turns around.  However, what was once used to enhance the features you were born with, is now being used to distort and stylise your features into those that resemble cosmetic procedures.  Actually into those that resemble a mask.  None of this is bad in itself, as long as you have a good grasp of who you are and actually like who you are.

Returning the original photo.  What happens to the woman under the mask?

old lady guadalajjara 2

What happens to her at the end of the day when the makeup comes off, when the procedures expire.  Is she happy with the person underneath?

Thus comes the saying. BE happy in your own skin.  

I have become a person obsessed with being happy in my own skin.  I am not sad about getting old.  I have worked bloody hard to get old and have the stripes and scars inside and out to prove it.  I feel like a warrior.

I also at times feel insecure and flabby and bumpy.  But I want to enjoy my later years and find joy in who I am within and without.  I want my daughters and my grand daughters to feel safe and happy in their own skins.  To know that they are beautiful because of the light that shines out of them and the brains and thoughts in their heads not the makeup on their faces.  I want them to know that kindness and grace and mercy are worth more than youth and good looks.

Beauty truly is only skin deep.  Like a flower, the beauty  of our youth will fade.  But it will be replaced with many stunning sunsets,  reflected in our wisdom, humour and grace.  The joy of being perfectly at peace and safe in our own skin.  Of rocking grand babies and holding family close and being able to say,  “Its okay,  this will pass.  I know for I have been there”.  You are safe and you are beautiful.

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Love Lisa

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Are you an Empath? 4 Special Traits.

Are you an Empath.  An empath is the ability to perceive the mental or emotional state of another individual.  I am an empath and it has both advantages and disadvantages.  If not recognised and managed it can exhaust you.

People who are empaths have these 4 special traits.

Woman with a personality that is too real

Empaths have a unique ability to tune into the way others are feeling and understand people on a level most of us can only dream of.

Many empaths are aware that they are different from other people, and sometimes their powers of perception make them feel uncomfortable around others.

The truth is, being able to read someone isn’t a curse, it’s a special ability that should be held in the highest regard.

After all, people are hard to understand, so if you have a leg up on the rest of the population, go ahead and work your magic.

If you are an empath, you’re probably hiding these 4 super powers, and you might not even know you have them.

1) You Have a Big Advantage Over Others

When you have empathic abilities, your brain is hardwired to make you the way you are. People aren’t comfortable with confronting emotion and so many empaths will ignore the feelings they get when they encounter people.

But for those of you who embrace your special powers, you will always have the advantage in conversation, relationships, work and more because you are tuned into what you are feeling and what those around you are feeling as well.

Many people walk around on a daily basis and don’t know what they are feeling, thinking, wishing for, wanting, and empaths know exactly what they desire, need, and feel.

This makes them more focused and aware of what will make them happy and and what will make them miserable.

empath traits quote

2) You Experience Ups and Downs

Because empathic people are very tuned into their feelings, this means that they experience emotion on a much higher level than most people do.

When other people are having a bad day, they usually feel down or sad for a while, but when empaths are having a bad day, it consumes their world.

They feel intensely, both good and bad.

But when they are having a good day, they let the light shine out of them like it was meant to, and that is something many people wish they could do more often and in an easier way.

3) You Can Read People’s Bullshit

One advantage of having an empathic personality is that you can tell when people are lying. Whether they are embellishing about their lunch or their income, you can sense the nuances that most people have when they are cooking up a story, and you don’t tolerate it.

This is a great ability to have because whether we like to admit it or not, a lot of people are full of it, and it can help when you can read a person to determine how trustworthy they may be.

empath traits quote

4) Your Creativity Shines

Empathic people are much more creative than the average person. You probably rely on your emotions to help you express yourself, but you might also express yourself through art or song.

What’s more, your creativity goes beyond a paintbrush and canvas: you are good at problem solving, seeing the positive in negative situations and can tolerate being uncomfortable for a while to earn the payoff in the end.

Saying Goodbye

Two weeks ago I buried my father.  It was a gut wrenching and awful lead up to his death.  Joseph Murray Cooper  died 5 months shy of turning 90 years old.

My dad was larger than life.  A cracking, loud laughing, charming, death-defying, adrenaline junkie.  A jockey, boxer and speed boat racer.

It was hard to see him shrivelled and tiny in the intensive care unit.  Struggling for every breath.  While we waited basically for him to starve to death.  Palliative and with notes to not take any heroic measures,  his heart beat on whilst we waited for his body to stop.  It was gruelling and grievous.  Surely there is a better way to die.

Whilst death is a natural process and 90 is a good age to die.  You are not prepared for all the memories that you have to process.  Whilst your loved one is dying, you are reliving the pain and the joy of fractured and broken relationships.  Sharing small hospital rooms with ex-spouses, ex-step brothers and sisters and total strangers that your father did life with after his life stopped with yours.

It is in times like these when I realise how big, elastic and encompassing love is.  We want to clutch love to our hearts and keep it to ourselves, but love has wings big enough to encompass everyone if you allow it too.

My father was a hero to many people.

It’s not easy to share your dad.  It’s easier to blame and to point to faults and relationship cracks.  If you are able, the pain lessens its grip on your soul when you allow others into your heart and give permission for others own him and call him their own.

Together we prepared his memorial service.  Two wives, four children, five step children and too many grandchildren and great-grandchildren to count.   All wept over his loss, all spoke of the way that he had changed their lives.

Dad was the father who looked not only after his own children and grandchildren in the best way that he knew how, but he also had room in his heart for his step daughters  their families.

Along with many others who needed his strength. He passed on the same sense of inclusion, humour and hospitality that he had learned in his own life’s journeys.

Dad made it through life because he was not afraid to share his love.

Born into the slums of Fitzroy in the depression of the 1930’s.   Within the space of  two and a half years, Dad  lost both his parents.  At 2 1/2 he  was given to another family to raise and was left with a note pinned to his chest.  He was 21 before he realised that this family  was  not his birth family.

Dad was the quintessential Aussie battler and to honour him we played the John Williamson song ‘True Blue’ at his funeral.

Hey True Blue, don’t say you’ve gone
Say you’ve knocked off for a smoko
And you’ll be back la-ater on
Hey True Blue, Hey True Blue

These were some of the words that I read at his funeral:

We cannot foresee the trials and misfortunes that will test us along the way. We cannot know what Gods plan is for us. What we can do is to live out our life’s as best we can with purpose and with love and with joy.

We can use each day to show those closest to us how much they mean to us and as the old proverb says, to treat each other the way that we wish to be treated.

Dad was a humble man and would always admit his mistakes. We, like Joe,  can learn from our mistakes and rise out of suffering to make a new start. To strive at all costs to make a better world for our children and grandchildren to live in.

We do not weep for him today because of an unused life.

Dad lived every minute to the full. Squeezing out the marrow of every moment.

We weep because we loved this kind and tender hero who persevered through pain and tragedy.
“As you know so well, the passage of time never really heals the tragic memory of such a great loss. But we carry on because he would have wanted us to and because his love still offers light to guide us in this world”.
He leaves us with the extraordinary memories he gave.
His broad cheeky grin and sunburned face. His thick curly hair whipping in the wind behind the wheel of his boat. A whiskey in his hand and his devilish and deep-throated laugh. His irreverent humour and his shameless flirting with anything in a skirt.
May God Bless Joseph Peter Murray Cooper and may you rest in the peace you deserve.
We will miss you……… but you led a damm good life Dad and we are thankful to have had you in our lives.

We are Not Called to Follow an Organisation but a Way of Life.

I am the way, the truth and the life’ Jesus did not call people to join an organisation, but to follow a way of life. Ray Simpson

In the last few years I have had a lot of people asking me about community, church, gathering, attendance  etc…  In the last decade  our understanding of what it is to be a Christian or what it is to attend church has become very entrenched with the institutional model of attending church weekly on a Sunday.  Singing three fast songs, two slow songs,  having announcements, offering and a message.

I challenge you to show me where this model is reflected in the bible.

I constantly hear sentences like:  Where do you fellowship?  Where do you find like minded people?  Where do you attend?

Jesus us told us to go OUT into all the world.  His own life models being present in community, in every day life.

I have been challenged of recent years to be more present in my community.  To BE the presence of God IN my community.  To be available and to be salt and light.  That means being accessible and involved in the life of the community around me.

Not living in fear.  Not living in judgement and condemnation.  Just being who God created me to be and loving those around me.

I am moving further and further away from the  ‘us and them’ mentality and closer to just ‘us’.  In doing so I have met and am doing life with some of the most amazing humans on the planet.  There is no longer ‘us and them’.  There is just us and that is enough for me.  In fact I have had more God encounters in the last 4 years than in the previous  30.

For God so loved the world that He gave his only son Jesus.

I am sorry Christians but God does not love you more than anyone else.  God IS LOVE.  HE LOVES – everyone.  He loves the whole world and everything in it.

When we love,  we make an environment where the spirit of God can dwell because that is who he is.  People are drawn to love, they crave it and need it.  Love is the greatest power in the universe.  “For the greatest of these is LOVE”.

Dear friends, let us continuously love one another, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born from God and knows God.

I no longer drive each week to a location to meet with other ‘Christians’.

I no longer spend all my time and energy ‘doing’ church I am the church.

I no longer worry about inviting people TO church.  I invite people to church every time I have a conversation with them and every-time I demonstrate the love and acceptance of Christ toward them.

This post from Rev Ray Simpson from the Way Marks of Life initiative explains it very well and it is different for all of us.  As long as we are following Christ and not the institution.

Way Marks Of Life

COMMUNITY IS NOT READY-MADE

I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel… and most of the brothers and sisters, having been made confidant in the Lord by my imprisonment, dare to speak the word with greater boldness and without fear. Philippians 1:12, 14.

There is no ready-made Community on anyone’s doorstep. Unity with other members is rooted in the knowledge that we all follow the community’s Way of Life and that this reflects our deepest calling. Introduction to the Way of Life

Traveller        I want a community that is there for me every day where I live.

Guide             I encourage you to ask yourself this question: Which do you love most – God or your idea of a community?

Traveller        Why can’t I have both?

Guide             God comes first. God may give you what you long for but it will be on his terms, not yours.

Traveller        What do you mean?

Guide             The first issue to sort out is this: Is God calling you to live this Way of Life? If you commit to this, you will be led wherever God wishes to lead you. God may ask you to open your heart to local people and share in an existing group, or to draw new friends to meet together. God may, however, lead you to a different focus.

Traveller        Can you give an example?

Guide             The apostle Paul was asked to travel on missionary journeys. Then he was put under house arrest. He carried those he had met in his heart. He wrote letters to them and prayed for them but he had no ready-made community on his doorstep. This dispersed community of Aidan and Hilda may be like that.

Traveller        In what ways?

Guide             Some keep in touch through area groups, and occasional community events, others keep in touch with like-minded members through Skype, Facebook, email and other social media. All use the daily prayer diary. But there is something deeper that binds us together. When we truly ‘come home’ we are known as we are known.

Reflection

What is your deepest calling?

 

You can get Rays book here – Amazon.  Way Marks for the Journey

I am the way, the truth and the life’ Jesus did not call people to join an organisation, but to follow a way of life.

Under the guidance of Ray Simpson, renowned for his expertise in Celtic spirituality, this daily prayer book is structured according to the way of life adopted by the Community of Aidan and Hilda. Along with a short Bible reading and reflection, each day includes a step to enable readers to move away from what is destructive towards what is life-giving. There is also a unique spiritual breathing exercise following the rhythm with which our bodies breather, allowing us to pray with our very core, wherever we are.

 

If England Gets Beaten, So Will She

Last weekend in Australia we had three horrific murders of women at the hands of someone they knew.  Domestic Violence is so common now that it hardly makes the news.  One woman a week in Australia is still being killed by someone well known to them.

‘To say it’s been an awful week for women is an understatement. It’s been a horrific month and Saturday the 7th of July was diabolical’.  To date 34 women have been violently killed”.  (Womens Agenda)

According to the Counting Dead Women Australia researchers of Destroy The Joint it takes the number of Australian women violently killed in 2018 to 34.

Thirty four women killed in 27 weeks.

That is eight innocent victims of violence in a single month. Eight people forever gone. Countless more lives forever marked by this brutality.

If eight Australians had been killed in other circumstances – terror or negligence – tell me we wouldn’t have a task-force formed by now?

It is about to get worse.

Did you know that the statistics of Domestic Violence escalate when the football is on.

Ahead of this year’s World Cup, studies showing a correlation between violence and football were widely shared – with these reports finding that domestic abuse increases when England wins or loses a match.

The largest of the studies, conducted by Lancaster University in 2013, found that abuse increased by 26 per cent when England played and 38 per cent when they lost (source).

The reactive campaign for the National Centre for Domestic Violence has been launched as the World Cup picks up pace. It features images of national flags imprinted onto women’s faces in blood.

Statistics are the same in Australia for AFL Grand final and the Rugby League World Cup. While the State of Origin is playing, the  violence increases by 40 % (source). 

New data from the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research spanning six years from 2012 to 2017 indicates a 40.7 per cent average increase in domestic violence, and 71.8 per cent in non-domestic assaults across the state on Origin game days.

So while many of you are looking forward to the World Cup, Many women and families are dreading it.

Experts say the “disturbing findings” suggest the Origin’s “particular celebration of heavy drinking, masculinity, tribalism, and the toxic level of aggressive alcohol promotion have collided to encourage drinking to excess and domestic violence” (source)

Domestic violence

Domestic violence – refers to acts of violence that occur in domestic settings between two people who are, or were, in an intimate relationship. It includes physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and financial abuse.

 

Yes, men can be victims too, but the overwhelming accounts of violence are from male perpetrators.  Both women and men are more likely to experience violence at the hands of men, with around 95% of all victims of violence in Australia reporting a male perpetrator.

So while you crack open a beer and sit back to watch the game.  Think of the women who are dreading the results, in more ways than one.

 

The National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line — 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) — is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault.

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Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

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