Category Archives: balance

Personal Growth

Many years ago whilst still teaching, a professional development activity required us all to undertake an assessment as part of a personal growth program. I can’t remember which assessment it was, but it measured several key areas – a bit of a combination of a psychological and aptitude profile to see if we were mathematically or logically aligned as well our artistic and creative abilities. It also included whether we had strong spiritual beliefs as well as our communication skills. It certainly wasn’t about Emotional Intelligences.

No surprises for me when my assessment came back. If you know me well, then you can probably guess where my strengths and weaknesses showed up. I do remember many of the staff grumbling about having to do “touchy feely” activities as a result of the assessment in order to create a “team spirit”.

Many of the teaching staff flitted about showing and comparing their profiles to each other, but I decided to keep mine close. The facilitators had a good idea of the grouping of various abilities and it was clear that for the most part, we had chosen our teaching areas according to our profiles.

With my result showing somewhat of a deficit in the science area, I made the decision to undertake some studies related to that area for personal growth. I chose to do a course unrelated to my subject matter or even teaching.

personal growthI had just finished a 4 year Steiner Teacher Training course and had discovered that I enjoyed exploring subjects that stretched my mind. As Steiner education looks at the whole child including their health, I decided to find out more about Homeopathy.

This might not appear to the skeptic to be scientific, but I discovered that you do need a logical approach to taking a history and recording and comparing symptoms to the effects of remedies. A bit of a giant physiological jigsaw puzzle. This study took another 4 years part time and as part of the course requirements I needed to study anatomy and physiology. Nothing like diving into and improving my scientific knowledge! Another year of stretching myself although I do like to think it was balanced with the esoteric knowledge imparted during the Polarity Therapy that I studied after that…….

On Two Wheels

Why I bought my motorbike………

This was a question posed on a forum of a club that I belong to and I got to reminiscing on why I bought my current motorbike…..not that I have changed bikes in a long time!!!

Many moons ago and last century, I had the experience of riding pillion on a friend’s brand new BMW. My parents disapproved of the idea of me riding on a motorcycle (never mind that both grandmothers did during WW2) and a plan was hatched. I bought a leather jacket, boots, gloves and a helmet and stored them at my friend’s house. Such is the behaviour of a headstrong teenager!

One sunny Sunday afternoon a group of us headed out to spend some time exploring the roads around York. It was my first trip as a pillion passenger and I loved the freedom of the machine, albeit as a passenger.

All was good until we hit a patch of loose gravel on the approach to one of the waterfalls and suddenly my friend had disappeared from in front of me. Time seemed to freeze frame and I slid from the pillion seat onto the tank, just in time to allow my leg to cushion the bike from a roadside culvert. Nothing seemed to be broken – either the bike or me – so it seemed to be best to get back on and have a look at the waterfall down the road.

It wasn’t until later that evening that the knee swelled up and started to turn all manner of colours. My mother asked me why I was limping and I fibbed and said that I had slipped on the rocks at the waterfall.

Shortly afterwards I signed up for lessons to learn how to ride a motorcycle and spent a few Saturday mornings on the concrete pads down near the Perth Lockup on the riverside before being allowed to go out on the roads with my instructor. In those days you had to be accompanied by a licensed instructor who rode alongside you. This was followed by some advanced training at the Safety council where an ex Police instructor taught me to ride over seesaws and through slaloms. All good fun and done on a borrowed 350cc Honda.

My instructor owned a motorcycle shop and had an immaculately restored BSA C11 for sale, but it was just a little more than what I had saved up. The following week a 450cc Honda came into the shop and was within my price range and I could afford it! That was it…. my first set of 2 wheels! I hopped on and twisted the throttle…. I hadn’t accounted for the extra 100cc that I was familiar with and to the amusement of the guys at the shop; I did a wheel stand down the street, fortunately missing all of the parked cars on either side of the street.

The bike was mine! My friend with the BMW came over to check it out and laughed at hearing about the wheel stand. He offered for me to take his bike for a ride and to learn how to take it easy on the throttle. I hadn’t gone far when the sound of a siren startled me and glancing in the mirrors could see the red and blue flashing lights….. oh no! I had been travelling so carefully, keeping an eye on the speed. I got off the bike and the policeman approached me. My stomach somersaulted… I hadn’t attached the “P” plates and thought I was in big trouble. “How long have you had the bike?” he asked. “Would you like to join the BMW Club?”

Whew! I wasn’t in trouble; he had pulled me over out of curiosity and invited me to the next meeting. Mr Plod, as he was known, warmly welcomed me when I did turn up to the next meeting and introduced me to an interesting bunch of people with various nicknames such as “Bear”, “Goldie” and the like. This was the start of some weekend rides where they were very tolerant of my novice status. Around the same time, my friend with the BMW got involved with a “patch” group and I was invited to accompany them on a ride to Geraldton, where the local constabulary turned everyone back immediately on arrival.

My friend eventually sold his BMW and bought a Ducati which was somewhat difficult to ride as the clutch lever was exceptionally heavy to operate. We planned a trip East across the Nullarbor Plain with him on his Ducati and me on my trusty 450 Honda and upward to Toowoomba – getting no further than Northam when the 860 Ducati “blew up”. Trailered back to Perth, we lay low as we had farewelled friends and family and stayed with a member of the “patch” group until the Ducati was running again.

Totally inadequately prepared by today’s standards, we had no tent or cooking utensils … just a basic sleeping bag each and we carried an absolute minimum of clothing in our army surplus kit bags. We slept on sheepskins that doubled as seat softeners during the day. There was still over 200km of unsealed road to navigate and the closer we got to it, the more stories we heard of the horrific bulldust holes and corrugations. We decided to camp at the start of the dirt and attempt it in the morning; not thinking that the dirt would slow us down or that we were traveling east and would lose valuable daylight to travel by. Surprisingly, I stayed upright for that whole section and we pulled into Nullarbor Station after dark. I was wondering why I was getting strange looks so  I made my way to the Ladies room and had to laugh at my reflection. I had been wearing an open face helmet with sunglasses and the road dust was caked thick on my face except where the glasses had been and lines of mud striping down my face where my eyes had watered from the dust. No smart phones back then, but a photo would have been great to look back on! As it was late in the evening, most of the food in the roadhouse had gone except for a very rubbery toasted ham and cheese sandwich which was micro waved. Hunger won over visual attraction.

Eventually the Nullarbor trip was over and by the time we got to Port Pirie, I decided that a tent was needed, so found one in a disposal store and managed to fit it onto the bike with little trouble. Traveling across South Australia and up through the Hay Plains and the inland route to Toowoomba we clocked up the miles whilst not communicating to each other until we reached the inland Queensland town and parted company.

Months later, after my friend stated that he missed me so (in retrospect a major mistake) I packed up the bike again and traveled – this time solo – to Melbourne, finding a house and a job very quickly on my arrival. I stayed for about 6 months and returned again on my own to Brisbane after my friend was discharged from his Air Force Officer training (this was beginning to be a pattern).  Relationships 101 were not in vogue then and I would certainly not recommend anyone modelling this behaviour…..

A few months later…….I found out that I had been accepted into teacher training college in Perth, which had been planned to coincide with my friend’s posting and training at Pearce Air Force base.. Rather than give up the opportunity for further education, I packed up, rode to Sydney and put the bike on the train and with a student concession card, got a berth for me and my bike on the Indian Pacific train from Sydney to Perth.

The highlight of the next 6 months or so was, after having stayed friends with the other officer cadets and reconnecting,  was riding to the graduation ball at Pearce in a ball gown with flying boots and jeans underneath and high heels packed in my backpack and then riding home safely again after the event ended!

Not long afterwards, my Ducati friend phoned to say he was missing me (again… another misjudgement… or was it part of my lessons to learn?) and “would I make the trip back to Brisbane?”  Which I did. He welcomed me with a pretty sapphire & diamond ring…. another story for another time……

Travel still beckoned, so I sold the 450 Honda and we headed across the Tasman, landing in Auckland where I found a cute red 350 Honda which we rode down the east coast to Wellington and then after a stint packing apples in Nelson to replenish the wallet…… down the west coast and back up to Christchurch. I sold the bike and came back to Brisbane with just a few dollars left!

Word came that I was required to attend a civil court case in Perth, so we loaded the Ducati (which had been in storage) and set off. We didn’t quite do the land speed record, but we did get to Perth in 3 and half days from Brisbane, riding some nights behind semi trailers with the sleeping bags wrapped around us with “ocky straps” to hold them on. We ran out of money as we filled up in Norseman and a quick reverse charge phone call to my parents was made to wire money to Coolgardie Post Office, which they very kindly did and that funded the petrol money to get to Perth in time for the court appearance.

The court case didn’t go ahead with a last minute out of court settlement for a reasonable amount. I decided to buy another bike after the bank wasn’t keen on lending an extra $2000 to a 20 year old female to buy a terrace house in Fremantle. No point in having regrets over that. I would have been stuck in the one place and not had the adventures that were to come.

I reconnected with the BMW WA Club and it wasn’t long before I found an R100RS advertised in the Sunday papers. I was ready to buy it, but my friends in the club knew its history and advised me to look around a bit further. Fortunately, my old instructor had given me a job in his bike shop and the use of a nifty little 400/4 Honda, so I was able to get around on my own again. Eventually another bike – a R60/5 was advertised and with friends Goldie and Chris in tow, we checked it out. A guy had brought it over from South Africa, intending to ride around Australia, but family issues and lack of finances put a stop to that and it was up for sale. Getting the seal of approval, I bought it and finally had my own distinctive BMW as it had what was called an American or “toaster” tank and it was a perfect birthday present to me from me, in what was turning out to be my “Annus Horribilus”.

I am forever grateful to these guys in the WA BMW Club who taught me how to buy the right tools and how to service my bike. Tappets, timing, oil changes and general maintenance. Saved me a fortune….

Then when all seemed to be on track, a  friend of the Ducati rider turned up from Brisbane, which was awkward as it was clear it was more than just a friendship and  it was now time to bow out as gracefully as possible…..

A group in the BMW Club was heading East in September and I asked if it was OK to tag along so that I would have company traveling across the Nullarbor on my way back to catch up with friends in Melbourne. Unfortunately I had to have some surgery a week before their departure date and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to make it, but I decided that I would make myself better so that I could make some positive changes in my life.

What a trip! With a well loved teddy bear in the bottom of my kitbag, some good clothes for job interviews, a change of daily clothes and a one person tent and some cooking gear were put on the bike. I also packed  my archery bow and competition arrows along one side of the BMW……..and then fell off on a dirt road after my first freshwater shower in a while…. A few of the group looked out for me and then I was ready for my next adventure…….on to Melbourne…..

Which path will you take?

You may be familiar with the metaphor of the fork in the road or crossroads, where a decision has to be made.

For most people the decision is easy and they choose the path most familiar and they will continue to get the same results as they are already getting. This familiarity provides certainty and in their minds is the safest option. As they travel, they tick off the familiar landmarks along the path and know when they will arrive at their destination and what to expect when they get there.

Yet for those who choose that other, sometimes risky path are open to adventure and a journey of a lifetime. Extraordinary results lie like gems scattered at the edges of this new path. It is not worn by the heavy footsteps of those who choose the other path.

Those who traverse this path need a different mindset and will need to rely on other senses to navigate it. This path will test you to know deep inside what you are capable of and to explore what you stand for and what qualities within you that you want to cultivate and develop.

Occasionally you may want to glance back at where you came from and that will show you how far you have travelled. As L P Hartley wrote in The Go-Between… “The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there”.

Travelling along the other path will necessitate change within and as such you will be a different person, richer for the experiences as you continue this journey. Those who choose the familiar path may no longer understand you.  Another saying you may be familiar with is “Success is a journey, not the destination”, but it’s often the change of scenery and companions that provides the impetus to transformation.  A map is handy, as is some idea of where you want to go and it is important to have a current map or reliable GPS to refer to if needed… Once you have decided on the destination you can let go of that and focus on the means to enrich the journey to get there.

Letters I’ve written

Or should that be posts that I’ve written…. never meaning to send………
.. with apologies to the Moody Blues. This song came out way back, I had just moved to Melbourne for the first time (& yes, for a boy…maybe one day I will write about that).
Whenever I can catch some spare time from the clinic – usually when a client has rescheduled – I make an effort to sit down and write a few blog posts that I can post at a later date.

It’s interesting as I peruse the entries that I thought were pertinent….. so many of them no longer hold any meaning and don’t get posted. This document is like a journal, partly relating to my business persona and partly relating to events in my personal life. So often it is the writing down that leads to the catharsis and I believe it is important to leave some time and space before posting.
Just recently I’ve gone to post the next entry and hesitated…. I haven’t deleted the entry, because it was relevant at that time, but time and space has given me the wisdom to take into account whether it was a whinge or helpful to someone else.

“Beauty I’d always missed
With these eyes before,
Just what the truth is
I can’t say anymore.”

The beauty of doing this is that it is a reflection of my emotions at the time. Re-reading at a later date allows me to calibrate and look within to see if I have reacted to the situation or have applied the emotional intelligence techniques I seek to help others with.
Am I wise? Am I telling the truth?
We each have our own truth and expressing it to others may not be palatable to the recipient.

I have someone in my life who has written many letters, most probably on the advice of their therapist, and sent them….resulting in hurt and fracturing relationships. My advice is if you are to write these letters, do so and then burn them…..symbolically releasing the energy contained within to the Universe and thus letting go and letting a higher power (insert whichever deity you believe in here) take care of it for you. There have been several occasions recently when I have held my breath, waiting for a letter from this person after things didn’t go as they had planned. To tell the truth, I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get one as I was looking forward to composing a reply and thus stepping out of Emotional Intelligence.

There are other times where I may write about a something that was profound and on looking back at that moment realizing that I captured a moment of beauty….of realization ….that has led to an insight that I missed at the moment of writing. Like a sunrise or sunset, nothing stays the same…. Change is inevitable and these transitions can create amazing shifts in our consciousness. It’s all about letting go…..

Inspiration

Breathe……

…. the inward breath or inspiration is what draws the oxygen deep into your body.

Inspiration is also the ability to take that breath and see it as a spark of the divine within you as you light a fire within your soul.

Allow the flow of inspiration to help you create magic. As you allow this inspiration to flow, allow more love and light into your essential being and breathe new life into your  dreams and desires.

When encountering obstacles or difficulties along the way, remember to breathe…. Taking a deep belly breath in to fill the lungs and exhale the stale, used air.

Breathing deeply and with mindfulness will help to take the oxygen to the brain and help you to think more clearly.  Take a deep breath in and hold, then let go. There are several breathing patterns and techniques  that you can explore, but the one that is most comfortable is the one that will benefit you the greatest. As you breathe in and hold; for a moment take your mind to your staying power, your tenacity and think about any challenges that you have overcome.

Exhale and let go .. of fear; of limitations and feel yourself become lighter. Nurture yourself with the regular practice of breath centred meditation. This is like using the oxygen mask for yourself before others.

As you practice this, you will replenish your  energy. When you care for your own body and soul, then there is space to reach out and nurture and inspire others.

Simplicity

It’s always good to be reminded of the KISS (keep it simple sweetheart) principle.

Too often, when presented with a problem, we default to overthinking, resulting in a mindstorm of “what ifs” and making mountains out of molehills.

So how to simplify?

It may be that you need not only to de-clutter your mind, but your surroundings as well.  What are you holding onto metaphorically that is no longer needed?

I recently had a bit of a tidy up and discovered a box under the house that had been unopened since moving in some 15 years ago. It contained four years of university notes and other items that I obviously thought important enough to save all those years ago. Apart from a couple of things, like the outline for the thesis I never started, the mountain of paper grew and filled the recycle bin. Other things that I retained were some letters from family and friends.

Meeting up with friends on Australia Day reminded me that true friendship is a simple, enduring affection that can be picked up and resumed without needing to explain anything. Life can be challenging and unpredictable at times and unconditional acceptance by friends helps to overcome adversity.

Simplicity offers us freedom…. It’s about not being concerned or attached to what others think about us and having the wisdom to live our lives in a way that lets us follow our hearts and dreams, yet being mindful as we go along our way.

It takes courage to simplify.

By divesting yourself of the things and thoughts that keep you imprisoned, you can open the door to a more creative and simple life.

Respect

Respect is another of those words that has many different layers.

It can mean a regard for the rights of others, a feeling of admiration for certain qualities in another, a reverence for living things or it can be a kind of a social code or responsibility to act in a certain way.

We can also have respect for ourselves and this is shown by our emotional, spiritual and physical responses.  Emotional respect is about honouring yourself and other living beings. Included in this is the respect we show to others by not gossiping or saying untrue things about others.

But what is Truth?

Often based on our own perception, it can be skewed by ego and illusion and occasionally when we “speak our truth”, it is not the truth of the intended recipient and an emotional hurt occurs.

The Reiki precepts

Just for Today
Do not Anger
Do not Worry
Be Humble
Be Honest in your Work
Be Compassionate to Yourself and Others
  teach us respect and compassion and it certainly feels good to be kind and respectful to ourselves.  

Spiritual respect is more about a quiet reverence for all that the Universe provides and our connection to whatever higher power or divinity that we pay attention to.

Physical respect is about our stance, how we hold our bodies and how we wear our clothes.  It’s also about respecting and establishing clear boundaries and not getting into other peoples personal space.

Issues

We all, at some time or another, have issues.

It is our choice as to how we act or react.

If we have come from a fear or control based childhood our responses are likely to be different from someone who has come from an emotionally intelligent background.

By overcomplicating things, we can often exacerbate an issue…..  who hasn’t heard of the saying “making mountains out of molehills” ?

By learning some simple emotional intelligence strategies, we can escape the return to “default” and exercise choice in our responses. These strategies will give you the courage to identify fears or issues and by facing them, you will resolve them. For example if you have an issue with conflict, then a useful strategy is to become aware of different perspectives. Ask yourself “What alternatives and opinions can be considered instead of sticking rigidly to this perspective?”

Perception

serviceA very curious thing happened at a networking function the other evening, which relates to the title of this post.

Food had been prepared and the caterer was busy pouring drinks for the attendees, so as a committee member, I volunteered to help with the serving of the food.

Armed with platter and serviettes, I started to wander around the room, lending a helping hand.  Approaching a couple of groups of people, food was offered and I attempted to start a conversation. Quizzical looks….food was selected and conversation stopped…..This happened a couple of times and then I realized….. I was being perceived as wait staff and the expected behaviour is that wait staff don’t engage in conversation with attendees at functions!

waitstaffAs an observer of behaviour, I found this mildly amusing and decided to test by going around without a platter of food. This time I was able to engage in several conversations!

Reflecting on the experience, I began to wonder about the subconscious expectation we have about people in different roles and to use a biblical phrase “about having a servant’s heart” and how it can be applied in business.  It’s about seeing that a task needs to be done and stepping up to do it with no strings attached.

But it is also about perception… there have been reality TV shows based on just that…. where the CEO dresses casually or a little bit scruffily and wanders around his or her business to observe what is going on. Many “action” movies have the villains move about in the guise of waitstaff…. they are “invisible” as they serve.

In your daily life, have you thought about your subconscious responses to people who       serve you? We all expect good service when out for a coffee or a meal, but consider the energetic exchange when you expand your awareness to include the person serving and I am sure that it will be reciprocated.

Behaviour and Brain Function

Just over 10 years ago, I gave a presentation at the Melbourne Regional Conference for MYSA. I had returned to teaching after some time working for a private company that had developed an exercise based program for people with learning difficulties.

It was interesting to be on the other side of the teacher’s desk, listening to the frustrations of both parents and young people and to see the positive changes that they made with the program. In the past, many of these young people (and their parents) may have been students who had undiagnosed learning difficulties and were often the ones most likely to be sent to the principal’s office with “behavioural issues”.

The presentation was titled The Physiological Aspects of Brain Function and Behaviour in the Classroom. I enlisted the help of a couple of teacher friends who had also done some work with alternative therapies and were ready to help me make this an interactive presentation and push some boundaries. The room was set up with 8 to a table and the obligatory conference mints were in good supply as was a selection of brightly coloured balloons.

All started quite normally…..

Firstly I identified some common classroom behaviours and asked the audience to then consider if they had students that exhibited them. Many responded in the affirmative. I then asked them to reflect on the idea that a physiological reason for these behaviours.

Did anyone have students that constantly tipped their chairs? Once more hands were raised. The student is most likely to be doing this to stimulate the Vestibular system.

What about students that slouched in their chair or over the desk? Yet again the audience indicated with a show of hands that they had students like this. The slouching is a stimulus for both the Vestibular and somatosensory systems and in addition, the student may have poor core muscle tone.

For the student who reads better when lying down (think of the Primary School reading corner with bean bags), they are stimulating the somatosensory system by having more touch receptors engaged.

At this point, one of my friends began to tip on her chair, just often enough to visibly irritate some of the people sitting near her. I asked the audience for feedback on how they would deal with such behaviours and most indicated that for safety reasons, they would ask the student to cease the behaviour, and in some cases would issue a detention notice for bad behaviour. I then shared with the audience that I carried a “wobble board” into my classroom and students who had exhibited such behaviour were encouraged to stand on it for a minute or so when they felt the need to tip their chairs.

Students who wander around  the classroom are needing to stimulate their vestibular, oculomotor and proprioceptive systems. This was the signal for my other friend to get up and start wandering around. She circled the tables and took mints from one table and gave them to someone sitting at another…. I “ignored” her and carried on….

When a student is easily distracted by movement or sound, it is likely that they have a hyper sensitive oculomotor or vestibular system. For those who constantly tap a pencil or a foot or leg, it is possible that they are stimulating their somatosensory system.

And what about those scruffy uniforms? Rather than handing out slips for uniform infringements, consider a hyper sensitive somatosensory system. Tags at the back of the neck, ties undone…all uncomfortable stimulants for a sensitive student.

Since giving the paper, there has been a greater awareness of students on the Autism Spectrum. One of the key characteristics is lack of eye contact, and forcing eye contact may cause distress as it overloads sensory perception. These students can process much better if they are not forced to interpret facial gestures and social cues. Lack of eye contact can also be associated with some cultural traditions and is something to be aware of.

The vestibular system is extremely important. It filters most motor responses to the brain and the oculomotor system is linked to it. Studies by Harold N Levinson & Barbara Phelong, discuss the importance of inner ear function and learning and further studies by the University of Melbourne have discovered that frequent ear infections impact on the student’s acquisition of language.

So what to do about these behaviours, now that it is probable that they are a result of physiology rather than “being naughty”?

For excessive movement, can you find an excuse for the student to go to the office or library?  Give a time frame for the errand and discuss this option with the relevant staff, so that they know to expect the student.  Encourage the student to do as much sport as possible, including trampolining, tae kwon do or tennis. Students with this issue will often seek out or prefer to engage in non team activities.

For the chair tipper, it is suggested that parents invest in a fit ball for the student to use when on the computer or watching TV.

The easily distracted student may be dehydrated, overtired or hungry. There may be issues at home that are taking their attention away from the learning environment.

Check that the lighting is working well. Often the flickering of a fluorescent light, and what is imperceptible to many is a nightmare or very distracting for someone with oculomotor sensitivity. Similarly an overload of external visual stimuli can be very distracting and recent studies have shown that “less is more” in the way of posters and the like in the classroom.  If the student is easily distracted by sound, then create a quiet space for them to work in. Headphones plugged into some music that is playing at a low volume will help them to focus on their work.

To further encourage more focus during class time and in conjunction with the understanding of the possible physiological causes of the behaviour, include rewarding non disruptive behaviours on the marking sheet (rubrics) for assignments. This is a bonus for students who are always on task!

And you might be wondering about those balloons… each one on the table was a different colour and shape. Some were easy to blow up and others a little harder. Some took quite a bit of persistence and I’m sad to say that some participants didn’t try at all….