Where Are the Heroes?

Where Are the Heroes?

The last decade has seen a rapid de-escalation of the publics trust of religious leaders, politicians, educators  and community leaders.  The Royal Commission has exposed unprecedented sexual abuse of minors by the church and other institutions.  Politicians are argumentative, combative and come across as privileged and disconnected from every day life.  Most pastors/religious leaders are out of touch with the post modern world and the institution of the Church in general is no longer trusted, nor is it held in the place of honour it once was in the community.

Issues of safety, gender, equality, privilege, power and the abuse of these trusts has led to a time in society where ‘the persons in leadership’, who once held high the moral compass, are now held in disregard, suspicion and with much cynicism.   As my Nana used to say:  “Oh how the mighty have fallen”.

The community at large is frustrated by inequality, mismanagement and fraudulent behaviour.

Where are our heroes?  The ones we can trust to lead us.  The ones who put the nation and community above their own agendas.

I have compiled a small list of Aussie leaders and their signature quotes which express what they stood and fought for.  As John Howard famously said, “The things that unite us are greater than the things that divide us.”  We must remember this.

CHIFLEY, BEN 1885-1951

He strove to better the lot of ordinary people with a combination of public and private enterprise. He said: “We have a great objective – the light on the hill – which we aim to reach by working for the betterment of mankind … If it were not for that, the labour movement would not be worth fighting for.”

BROWN, BOB 1944-

Born in Oberon, Robert Brown became a doctor and then a conservationist, leading the fight against the damming of the Franklin River in Tasmania and spreading environmental consciousness as far as Germany and the Greens Party. Australian of the Year in 1982, he shared in 1990 the US Goldman Foundation’s environment prize, the world’s richest. “Wild places connect us to the universe,” he says. “There are no answers written on stone. But in the stones, the trees, the skies, is fulfilment for humanity.”

DUNLOP, WEARY 1907-1993

His tireless work made him a hero in World War II, along with other doctors, on the Burma-Thailand “death railway”, where he defied Japanese officers to save PoWs. He promoted friendship between Australia and Asian nations and was Australian of the Year in 1977. He said of the prisoners, 50 years after the war: “To this day I feel uplifted and borne up by their unquenchable spirit and patient endurance of suffering.”

MABO, EDDIE 1936-1992

Born on Mer, in the Torres Strait, Eddie Koiki Mabo made up for his lack of education with tenacity and a formidable intellect. Upholding his claim for native title to the Murray Islands, the High Court overturned the doctrine of terra nullius, the legal fiction that Australia was unoccupied before European settlement. Mabo, pronounced Ma’bo with emphasis on the second syllable, died a few months before the judgment. He had said: “My family has occupied the land for hundreds of years before Captain Cook was born.”

STREET, JESSIE 1889-1970

Born in India, Jessie Mary Grey Street graduated from Sydney University in 1910, joined the League of Nations Union and feminist organisations. She joined the Australian delegation to the conference that established the United Nations and successfully lobbied for a charter for women’s rights. She campaigned for the 1967 referendum on Aboriginal rights. She quoted Emerson: “God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose … You can never have both.”

WRIGHT, JUDITH 1915-2000

Was one of Australia’s foremost poets. She wrote biography, short stories and children’s books and campaigned for conservation and the Aborigines. She said: “The mateship ingredient in Australian tradition was always and necessarily one-sided; it left out of account the whole relationship with women.”

It is 2019 and across all areas of society women are still under-represented. The Chinese say “they hold up half the sky”, but relatively few made their presence felt in the distribution of power and influence until the last three decades of the 20th century. But change is slowly coming.  So slow that if we continue at this present rate it will take 200 years for women to earn the same amount of wages as men doing the same job.

Where are the heroes?  They are out there I am sure of it.  They look a lot like you and me.  The ones who will stand up and make a difference.  Who are willing to wade upstream against the current and who are able to confront the status quo and make a change.  People do not like change.  They may acknowledge that it is needed but they rarely like it when it comes.

What makes a hero?

 “A hero is someone who can be looked up to for their actions. Bravery is usually the biggest trait of a hero. This person has usually overcome huge obstacles to survive or to rescue others. Heroes come in all sizes. Sick children, grown firefighters, doctors, missionaries, philanthropists are all examples of heroes.”

What makes a true leader?  Lets look at just three core values.

Humility

as demonstrated by a sense of humbleness, dignity and an awareness of one’s own limitations; open to perspectives different from one’s own.

Integrity

as demonstrated by moral courage, ethical strength, and trustworthiness; keeping promises and fulfilling expectations. It still takes honesty and integrity to breed trust and credibility – the cornerstone of strong relationships.

Respect

as demonstrated by self-respect and respecting others regardless of differences; treating others with dignity, empathy and compassion; and the ability to earn the respect of others.

If we had leaders demonstrating just these three values the world would be a better place.  Accompanying these of course is love, wisdom, courage, tenacity and endurance.

If you are a follower of Christ you have the greatest responsibility as a change agent.  Jesus said ‘the Kingdom of God is at hand’.  This means that it is here now.  Not in 10 years or 1000 years but now.  The presence of God is within us.  The ability to love, bring peace, truth and justice is within us and is at hand.  It is not a distant reality.  The time that Jesus spoke of when the blind would see and the oppressed would be set free is now.

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.

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This cartoon could say:  Get Love, Wear Love, Fly…………

Brian Mc Laren says it this way:

‘The time has come today to cancel debts, to forgive, to treat enemies as neighbours, to share your bread with the hungry and your clothes with the naked, to invite the outcasts over for dinner and to confront the oppressor. Not with sharp knives but with unarmed kindness’.

Imagine if followers of Christ actually did what they were supposed to do and followed the way that Jesus loved, freed, healed and included people.   The world would definitely be a better place.  It’s time for the Christian to come out from behind the walls of the church and actually practice the gospel of Jesus to a scared and anxious world.  Stop talking and teaching it and start doing it people.  Be the hero your neighbour and workmate is looking for.  Connect with your neighbours with unarmed kindness and NO AGENDA but love and friendship.

Another Year Bites The Dust

Are you ready, hey, are you ready for this?
Are you hanging on the edge of your seat?
Out of the doorway the bullets rip
To the sound of the beat
Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
And another one gone, and another one gone
Another one bites the dust
Hey, I’m gonna get you, too
Another one bites the dust
Soon after becoming dictator of Rome, Julius Caesar consulted with his leading astronomers about the need to reform the calendar which had become out of sync with the sun. In 45 BC the new calendar came into effect and January the 1st is celebrated for the first time with the giving and receiving of gifts.  A practice which early Christians would move to the 25th of December to mark the birth of Christ.
January is named after the god of gateways and beginnings, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, and endings – ‘Janus’.
Janus is normally depicted with two faces.  One facing forward to greet the future and one looking backward to the past
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Janus frequently symbolised change and transitions such as the progress of past to future, from one condition to another, from one vision to another. He represented time, because he could see into the past with one face and into the future with the other (source).
Consequently a brief history of why we celebrate the passing of the old year and consider the aspirations of a new one.  We laughingly post our New Years resolutions promising ourselves to lose weight, get fitter, save money, quit smoking etc….. yet only 8% of us will actually achieve those goals (Forbes) .  In fact a staggering 80% of goals will fail by February (source)
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It is an interesting time of year where you feel caught between two worlds.  You lose track of the days and everything is a little bit of a blur.  The glass or two of champagne the night before possibly adds to this.  If nothing else, it is important that we stop for a minute and contemplate the year that has passed.  The triumphs, the failures, the losses and the gifts that have come into our lives.  In this space of mindfulness we consider the things we wish to change as we enter this brand New Year.
Could we be kinder?
Could we show more love and tolerance?
Do we need to work harder at navigating boundaries?
Do we need to build more bridges?
Should we be stronger with toxic friendships and family members?
Should we be less fearful?
How do we become less anxious and more at peace?

These are the questions that are circulating my thoughts this January the 1st 2019.

As 2018 flows into the history books I come to terms with the  death of a father and dear family friend. I look back in amazement and watch my heart expand with ferocious love toward a precious brand new grand-daughter.  I look with admiration at my children who stun me with their kindness,  generosity of spirit, incredible capacity and their ancient wisdom.

It is important to look back, to reflect but we cannot stay in that space.  Many people spend their life looking back at what they deem are their best days.  They spend far to many hours trying to re-create those moments.  It is a futile effort. Looking back helps us to understand life but true living can only happen forwards.  True life only happens in the creation of new moments.

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards. Soren Kierkegaard

I am grateful for my family and friends.  All of whom understand the importance of learning from life’s lessons.  Who help me navigate and unravel the mess of the past.  But more importantly, they help me realise the great value of being present.  Of looking forward to future adventures, new memories and who encourage me to live life forward.

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all. Oscar Wilde
Happy New Year everyone.  I hope that you find kindness, peace and tolerance this year like never before.
Love Lisa
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. Steve Jobs

Celebrating the Birth of the Homeless, Oppressed and Marginalised

“Christmas is built upon a beautiful and intentional paradox;

that the birth of the homeless should be celebrated in every home.”
-G.K. Chesterton –

If we had to paint a picture of the Christ that many of us celebrate at Christmas, what would our portrait look like? If the sound bytes that accost us on social media tell us anything, we may get the idea that Christ is a bit like a Texan Ranger, ready to destroy the ‘enemy’ because obviously, God is on his side. The luxury hummer he drives would proudly display the number plate ‘blessed-to-be-a-blessing,’ and all his tweets would have #blessed at the end of it. He would healthy, wealthy and covered in gold dust, as according to the gospel of some, this is the way we are meant to live.

Welcome to the idea of Christ, painted by a dominant, privileged consumer culture.

The history and backdrop that informs modern Christianity are complex. Over the centuries every generation has wrestled with what it means to follow in the steps of this Jewish rabbi, and every generation had authoritative voices claim they have found the way to absolute ‘truth’. Maybe we lost so much of Christ in the Constantine era? Or in the many ‘holy’ wars fought with great gusto amongst the factional faithful? Or by preferencing the voice of Augustine? Or the Reformers? Or the fiery depictions of Dante’s interpretation of hell?

Today, the misplacing of the Messiah is often evidenced by everything that popular Christianity is against, and fear seems to be the flag flown high from the castles of so many of Christ’s representatives. So perhaps our true depiction of Christ should be this diminutive little person, hiding behind a giant wall in case ‘others’ invade and pollute the tightly held ideas of morality and godliness? Maybe this shrunken little figure sounds more like the shrieking seagulls of ‘Finding Nemo’ – ‘Mine, Mine, Mine, MINE!’

Perhaps if we stop all the noise, engage in some critical deconstruction of current Christian discourse, and spend time reflecting, we come to a sobering recognition – we have ‘sanitised’ Christ into our liking and our image.

This safe, disfigured Icon seems to join us in hating all the people we despise, justifying all our violence, agreeing with all our exclusions, shaming all those we shame … we have made Christ and Christmas into us – like a Christmas bauble that has our face on it. No wonder we lose our shit when people don’t want to say “Merry Christmas,” ultimately their resistance to our precious ideas confronts in us a form of deity-narcissism, carefully disguised in persecution and conspiracy theories.

The figure of Christ that walks through the pages of the Gospels seems very unperturbed about whether people are putting the right messages on cards and coffee cups! That doesn’t seem to rile this Incarnate One. Instead, he seems to get a lot more exasperated at, well, at the sectarian shenanigans that really have not evolved over the centuries. Things like religious institutions that have become money-peddling spaces of greed (John 2:13-17), pious power puffs who have become so inflated with a zealotry messiah-complex that they shut the doors of the kingdom to anyone who is not like them (Matthew 23:13), and the continual microscopic dogma examination whilst neglecting the weightier things of God – like love, mercy and justice (Matthew 23:23).

I don’t think this Christ person was about making any of our enshrined political-religious traditions great again. He seems far more focused on describing a different way to his followers … where the last shall be first, where devotion is not bound up in what we think about hell or heaven, or whether we ‘sense’ God and have goosebumps – but whether we are feeding the hungry, providing for the destitute, welcoming the stranger, identifying with those on the margins, making the world a safer place for minority groups … When I read the gospels it seems this Christ of Christmas has a message for us all and it’s relatively simple: Don’t be an asshole! This cardinal contemplative notion seems to underscore the words we have of Christ that are in print today.

So, dear readers, as Christmas approaches may it be filled with joy and a good dose of uncomfortable reality. As I write this, I feel uncomfortable for I recognise that I am part and parcel of this dominant consumer culture, rejecting it and then falling right back into its traps! I question my pictures of Christ. What have we done to this child in a manger that could find no human shelter, but was welcomed into a shack by God’s fur children? This child that would grow and challenge the powers of his day that oppressed the poor, the homeless, the refugee? The child that would turn his back on kings and kneel in the dirt with the woman who had become the target of patriarchal, misogynistic scape-goating? The child who would be murdered, not because some wrathful ‘god’ needed a sacrifice, but to demonstrate precisely how radical love really is. We seem to have lost so much of this Christ child in the mayhem of our political-religious pontification. I pray this Christmas we consider resurrecting him … because the message he holds makes this season truly ‘jolly’.

Merry Christmas.

What God requires of us is this: to do what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humility – Micah –

Not All Wounds are Visible – Surviving Being Triggered

Not all wounds are visible – Surviving Being Triggered

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The last few months have for me have been quite difficult in regard to my mental health.   One side effect of trauma is silence.  You get verbal vertigo.  You lose your voice.  I have spent the last 19 years walking out of and through trauma.  Learning to find my voice.  However, there are still many times when I trigger.  Sometimes worse than others.  The death of my father set off a cyclone of events and emotions.   In the aftermath I found that once again I had lost my voice.

It wasn’t so much the death of my father.  At 89 he had led a long life.  Grief in itself is inescapable, normal and has a place in our lives.  It was the lead up to his death, the arrangements for the funeral and the conversations that took place afterward that knocked my backward.

Judith Lewis says it this way: “Many abused children cling to the hope that growing up will bring escape and freedom.

But the personality formed in the environment of coercive control is not well adapted to adult life. The survivor is left with fundamental problems in basic trust, autonomy, and initiative. She approaches the task of early adulthood――establishing independence and intimacy――burdened by major impairments in self-care, in cognition and in memory, in identity, and in the capacity to form stable relationships.

She is still a prisoner of her childhood; attempting to create a new life, she reencounters the trauma.” ― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence – From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

“Many abused children cling to the hope that growing up will bring escape and freedom…a prisoner of her childhood; attempting to create a new life, she reencounters the trauma.”

In the last two decades I have learned to build boundaries and cages to protect myself.  I never learned how to build proper boundaries as a child so I have had to do the learning and unlearning as an adult.

Children can be taught at a very young age to build shark cages and this will help them identify as well as keep off predators in life. Some develop strong, impenetrable cages that allow them to live healthy, happy lives. Others are not so fortunate. These unfortunate ones may never build up enough bars to keep them safe from “sharks” or along the way, may lose bars when danger has presented itself (Hettwar).

Think of each bar of the shark cage as a boundary or a basic human right.  It we are taught that its not acceptable for people to shout at us or call us names, that is one bar in the shark cage..if we are taught that its not acceptable for people to hit us, then thats another bar in the shark cage (Ursula Benstead).  (see article on The Shark Cage).

I have learned that it is okay not to put myself in the way of harm.  In the past duty rated higher than safety.   This means that now I know that  I DO NOT have to spend time with toxic family members, friends or institutions.  I do not have to put myself in harms way.   It is difficult to separate yourself from ‘duty’, ‘obligation’, ‘loyalty’, to family members and friends who are not healthy and who trigger you.

If there is one event that is difficult to escape, it is a family funeral.  This means you are thrown ‘into’ harms way.   You can apply the skills that you have learned in therapy.  You can stand up for yourself when you have to.  You can use the voice that you have recently found.  Sometimes though it is all too much and too many memories and harrowing emotions are triggered and the tsunami engulfs you.

“Persons in dysfunctional families characteristically do not feel because they learned from a young age that not feeling is necessary for psychic survival. Family members generally learn it is too painful to feel the hurt or to experience the fear that comes from feelings of rage, abandonment, moments of terror, and memories of horror.”
Kathleen Heide

For me harrowing emotions lead to silence.  Shhh stay small, stay quiet, hide, don’t draw any notice to yourself.  Hide your true self.  Your true self is not applauded anyway so stay small, stay quiet.  Hide on the roof of the house or in the dark musty dirt underneath the house.  You have no voice, do what you are told, go where you are told. If you hide no-one can find you, the chaos cannot find you.

What does it mean to trigger?

A trigger is something that sets off a memory tape or flashback transporting the person back to the event of her/his original trauma. Triggers are very personal; different things trigger different people. The survivor may begin to avoid situations and stimuli that she/he thinks triggered the flashback (source).  A trigger is a reminder of a past trauma. This reminder can cause a person to feel overwhelming sadness, anxiety, or panic. It may also cause someone to have flashbacks. A flashback is a vivid, often negative memory that may appear without warning. It can cause someone to lose track of their surroundings and “relive” a traumatic event.   Triggers are external events or circumstances that may produce very uncomfortable emotional or psychiatric symptoms, such as anxiety, panic, discouragement, despair, or negative self-talk (source).

Published on Jul 30, 2017

There are certain psychological triggers that when activated, are so powerful, that not only does it force someone to ignore other sensory information, it actually also forces them to behave in ways that you would consider totally irrational. Listen to this to get a better understanding of your triggers. #psychology #psychologicaltriggers

 

You can see in this clip how the abused can easily end up in co dependant relationships with the abuser which in turn often disables and destroys other relationships.  Breaking this cycle is incredibly hard.   When I came out of a fundamental religious cult  in 2000, I started attending a large pentecostal church.  This space ‘seemed safe’ but eventually ended up being another instrument of torture.  I did not recognise the danger.  Like the pole cat with the inserted cheeping sound bite.  The danger sounded familiar and safe so I allowed it into my life.   Fed it and nurtured it to the detriment of my own family.

Triggers follow me into deep sleep.  I have recurring lucid dreaming where all sorts of nightmares are played over and over during the night.  This means that I wake tired and triggered before the day has even begun.  This cycle take a long time to break and is very exhausting.  Normal activities become overwhelming.  The demands of  every day life  feel like climbing Mount Everest.  Demands of friends and family drain you and there is little relief.  I would explain it this way.  You have no margins.  There is no extra safe space to absorb the inevitable ups and downs of daily life.  Just answering a phone call can take all the energy you have left.

HOW ARE TRIGGERS FORMED?

‘When a person is in a threatening situation, they may engage in a fight or flight response. The body goes on high alert, prioritizing all its resources to react to the situation. Functions that aren’t necessary for survival, such as digestion, are put on hold.

One of the functions neglected during a fight or flight situation is short-term memory formation. In some cases, a person’s brain may misfile the traumatic event in its memory storage. Rather than being stored as a past event, the situation is labeled as a still-present threat. When a person is reminded of the trauma, their body acts as if the event is happening, returning to fight or flight mode’ (source).

Very few people understand the aftermath of trauma or what it is to live constantly with PTSD.  You look normal, you sound normal so why can’t you be normal?  You are funny, you are entertaining so why can’t you just get over it.   “Let’s just talk about positive things they say”.    I find these types of demands from friends the most draining.  It is in the nature of people to shy away from ugliness and disturbances.  They  may have heard a little about your weird life or you weird family but do you have to keep going on about it?  They have zero comprehension of the effort it takes day after day after day, nor the hailstrom of fire something like a family funeral throw’s at you.

Thank you readers for allowing me to navigate these feelings.  For listening to my voice.  I have found it impossible to write over the last few months.  Maybe I am starting to recover.  Coinciding with this season I am doing a small amount of narrative therapy.  So many other layers of my childhood are being revealed, restored and understood.

Healing is a long and laborious effort but it has great rewards.  I have taken refuge in creativity and beauty and have been blessed to work in an environment where my job partners with my healing. Thank you to my friends and family who do understand and who walk alongside me every step of the way.  Especially my children who sometimes seem to know me better than I know myself.  I am grateful for their love and support and I learn so much from them every single day.

 

 

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.

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.

How Much Longer?

How Much Longer?

Published on June 16, 2018 by Alisa Tanaka-King on The Bird Girls Blog

 

Alisa is a friend of mine who is passionate about halting the horrific body count of women lost to domestic violence.  Here are some of her thoughts which have been prompted by the recent shock of Eurydice Dixon’s murder.

Three things happened recently that made me lose a little faith in humanity.

A couple of weeks back, I was running an education program in schools called Respectful Relationships. The program is designed to assist schools in incorporating the new addition of Respectful Relationships into their curriculum. This is a direct result of the Royal Commission into family violence that found that one in three women experience violence by the age of 15.

I’ve put a lot of time and effort into designing this program with a group of dedicated, creative, conscientious, people. It has been a challenging, confronting, and exhausting process.

When presenting this program to schools, we generally receive very positive responses from both students and teachers, which is encouraging and rewarding. We’ve had brilliant conversations about gender stereotypes, deeply embedded social conditioning, and breaking down of barriers.

However, just the other week, I had an unpleasant wake up call reminding me how difficult it is to make fundamental change. At the end of running a school program for year 8, private secondary school boys, one of their teachers approaches us defensive and insulted.

Our boys aren’t like that.

Now I specify that this was a private all-boys school, as there seems to be an assumption that if you are of a high enough social class, you are immune to being a violent criminal. We don’t go to any school assuming that the students are rapists or murderers, and I don’t believe that any child grows up aspiring to be such.

The program we run is not directed at boys who already have a history of violence or crime.

The program we run is not only taught to boys – it is taught equally importantly to girls.  For us to make the ground-breaking changes necessary to end gender-based violence, everyone needs to be better informed.

But this teacher wasn’t finished.

Why don’t you talk about violent women at all? There are violent women too.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been asked this. It’s not even the second. Or the third.I’m sure it won’t be the last.

Yes. Of course there are violent, terrible women.

Unfortunately there are hateful and destructive people in every gender, culture, religion, and race.

But this program is designed to help address the family violence crisis we are facing. The crisis where women are statistically at much greater risk of experiencing physical and emotional violence, controlling behaviour, and death.

We try to approach conversations like the one with this teacher in a positive, patient, and informative manner. We explain the statistics, and how important it is for everyone to be responsible and active in making fundamental societal change.

But really, I just wanted to lose all professionalism and shout at her.Oh, did I mention this was a female teacher?

I wanted to ask her if she had ever wondered if her skirt was too short? Her heels too high?

Had she ever parked in a spot that was too dimly lit?

Did she carry her keys between her knuckles late at night, phone clutched tightly in the other hand, wondering if she would be able to dial for help fast enough?

I wanted to know if she’s ever texted friends to let them know she got home safe?

Does she know how to walk quickly, but not so quickly that the stranger behind her thinks she’s rushing? Does she know that she shouldn’t have to be afraid as a default?

Honestly, I wasn’t even angry at this teacher.I was just gutted that one of our educators was unable to see why this is so important. I felt like everything we are working so hard to do fell on deaf ears, and I lost a little faith in humanity.

 A close friend of mine is pregnant, expecting her first child, a little girl.

She mentioned to me that she is conflicted.

She is a very strong, intelligent, independent woman who believes firmly in gender equality.

She doesn’t believe in victim blaming – of course no one deserves to be raped or murdered, and that should never be seen as the direct result of the decisions the victim has made.

But I will still warn my daughter not to walk home in the dark, teach her to be careful, teach her to be afraid. What else can we do? It just seems too difficult to change anything else.

I tried to explain the education program that I am running, but it sounded weak and useless against the reality of one woman murdered every week.

This kind of fundamental societal change takes too long for us not to teach our daughters to be cautious.

If I had a daughter I would teach her the same thing, and that breaks my heart, because it feels like admitting defeat. It feels like I’ve lost faith in humanity. And not just faith in the way our society currently functions, but faith in our ability to change and be better.

 And then, after a long day, I logged onto Facebook.

Now, my Facebook feed generally provides me with pretty like-minded views of the world, as I’m friends with pretty like-minded people. So, for the most part, facebook provides me with a lovely (though probably naive) little bubble of progressive, open-mined opinions.

But when I logged on this time, a male friend (and yes, it is relevant that he is male) had posted a status stating that he agreed with the Victoria Police statement asking people to take responsibility for their own safety. He then went on to question why anyone would disagree with this statement. In fairness, he approached this conversation openly, was sensitive, and welcomed comments and thoughts.

Of course excellent responses flooded in, explaining the frustration, unfairness and helplessness felt around the implications that this statement made. While the brilliant responses from both men and women gave me hope, I was still taken aback that this sort of view had to argued amongst a cohort of people who I thought shared my beliefs without a shadow of a doubt.

There have been countless articles, comments, tweets, and even Facebook profile picture frames responding to the Victoria Police comment, and I think it is excellent these issues are being brought to light and discussed.

However, it feels like we are putting so much effort into convincing people why we need change, that we’ve got no energy left for change at all.

When the shock of Eurydice Dixon’s murder fades away, will we go back to treating precautionary behaviour for women as normal?

Will we continue to be blind to the violence taking place behind closed doors towards wives, girlfriends and daughters?

Will we conveniently forget that women are being raped and murdered on a weekly basis, just because they aren’t being laid out in a public park where we are forced to acknowledge it?

It has taken hundreds, if not thousands of years to establish our current gender climate, and there is a mammoth amount that must be undone. Not just by women, not just by men, but by everyone – from our families and local communities, to our global society.

From celebrating the birth of a boy and praising the continuation of the family name.To telling girls to sit more lady-like.To saying boys will be boys but in the same breath demanding them to man up. From the nature of our  porn and sex industry, to our struggle to support mothers’ and their careers, to teaching our daughters to feel weak and our son’s that they must protect them.

I repeatedly explain to teachers, principals, students and colleagues that the fundamental societal change needed to bring about gender equality will take time.

But the task of creating change seems so monumentally big, that it feels impossible to even begin. Instead of being inspired to fight with energy and passion, I am overwhelmed with helplessness.

Every life lost is one too many.

How can we possibly turn around and say well, this will take time without losing faith?

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