Category Archives: gratitude

All a matter of perspective

When you look at this photo – what do you see? What is your perspective?

Do you see a cold, foggy morning and subconsciously shiver and look away?

Or is your perspective from the artist’s point of view with the droplets of dew twinkling like jewels in the muted light as the mist envelopes everything in a soft cloak that nourishes the plants?

30 Days of Gratitude

Gratitude helps you grow30 days of gratitude.

30 days doesn’t seem like a lot at first, but thinking about what to put for each day would have been a challenge had in not been for a picture that popped up on a social media site at just the right time.

I transcribed each day into my diary and then made a booklet to print off later that has space to diarize each day of gratitude. I had thought to post the next cycle on this blog, but then realized that there are days where I have little or no internet – especially when up at the retreat – so that idea won’t work.

A good friend said “Why stop at 30 days? Shouldn’t we all be grateful for something every day?” and I agree with her. Eileen Caddy’s quote: ” Gratitude helps you grow and expand. Gratitude brings joy and laughter into your lives and into the lives of all those around you” seems so apt. It brings about an awareness into our lives and awakens our consciousness.

By using the 30 Days of Gratitude Journal a habit  can be created. Even though it has been a couple of days since the 30 days finished, I’m finding that I’m still writing down what I’m grateful for in my daily journal.  I’ve rewritten the 30 ideas, mixing them up a little into my diary for another 30 Days of Gratitude and am looking forward to continuing the journey.

 

Gratitude

At the time of writing this, I’m up to Day 21 of a 30 day challenge to show gratitude for a different thing each day.

I found the original idea on LinkedIn and started by entering the questions in my work diary at the top of each page. All well and good, but I don’t take the diary with me to the retreat, so I realized that I would miss a few days here and there.

The solution to this was to post these daily questions and answer them on my Facebook business page. It’s interesting reading what others are grateful for as well.

So yesterday’s day of gratitude (Day 20) question was “Who in your life are you grateful for?” I could think of many and my initial response was my immediate family. Then later in the evening a cousin contacted me to say her father, my mother’s twin, had passed away that morning, just a day short of what would have been their 91st birthday. Mum had always joked and said she was going to live to a 100 like her Granny, but she left this realm just over 17 years ago. Back to gratitude….. I am grateful to my Uncle (and Aunt) for the many holidays I had with them during the six years we spent in the UK. Memories of playing with my cousins and getting up to all sorts of mischief.

Today’s question is “What song are you most grateful for?”

These seem like simple questions, but there are so many responses that can be made, which is why I’m planning on repeating the 30 Day Challenge again, but with the questions in a different order and created a booklet to print out and write in.

What song am I grateful for? Porcelain by Moby. Don’t know why, but it soothes my soul.

Another New Year

Each new year seems to come around a lot quicker these days! Or perhaps time is really speeding up. Many will have started the New Year with resolutions, new dreams and goals and have reviewed the previous year. Some will have celebrated the various religious holidays. Others may have withdrawn from celebrations as they leave an empty chair at the table for a loved one.

From what I have garnered in conversations with friends, colleagues and clients, is that most people seem to be confident that 2018 will be a good year and better than last year. Personally, I had a reasonably good year last year and feel optimistic about this new year. Late last year I retrained in NLP (with a different trainer), finding that to be very satisfying and as a result I am combining all the therapies I use into a Flexi Package for clients.

LabyrinthAnother project is the 30 days of Gratitude, which I intend to redo each time I finish a 30 day cycle. As I write this I’m up to Day 9 and today I am asked “What place am I most grateful for?”

No surprises here, I am most grateful for the retreat which I was able to buy with a modest inheritance from my parents and has allowed me to indulge in my labyrinth building passion.

If you would like to follow this cycle then have a look in on my page Balance4Life Programs on Facebook. I’m inclined to post the next cycle here and the challenge will be to find some different things to be grateful for!

 

Magic

greenhood-orchids With good winter and spring rains and some sunshine, Mother Nature has woven her magic and produced some beautiful plants to admire now that the land has lain fallow for several seasons and mulched with last season’s grasses and biddy bush.

Swathes of greenhood orchids, just gently nodding their heads in the breeze. I did chuckle when reading the gardening notes for them as these have sprung up out of heavy clay and have had no attention whatsoever.

Billy ButtonsSpring brings a colour palette of yellow….. first the wattles… with different varieties blooming over a period of time.  The longest lasting blooms are the pale, almost white wattles that have spikey branches.  This year has brought forward thesedrosera-3 tiny button like flowers that have carpeted the anthills and have started to die back.  Walking about, not only keeping an eye out for reptiles that may be stirring from their winter hiatus, the eye catches other small plants such as Droseras. Starting off as a small rosette of leaves, these grow into delicate plants that gently sway in the breeze, topped by a small pinkish white flower. They are carnivorous, but have yet to make any inroads into the thriving mosquito population.

CapeweedThe rains have also meant a bumper crop this year throughout the district of Capeweed. The yellow daisy like flowers with a dark centre are particularly attractive to the bees and I’m hoping that the local apiarist is getting some good quality honey. wildflower-2

In the afternoon light, there appears to be a patch of feathers in a stony area. Closer inspection reveals it not to be feathers, but tiny delicate irises, no more than four to five centimetres high.  The habit of carrying a camera on any expedition pays off, as the flowers have gone by the morning. Initially, I thought that the wildlife may have eaten them, but on a subsequent visit, noticed that by early evening the flowers had wilted and shriveled and later that night, by the light of a torch and with no wildlife in sight all that was left was the thin strappy leaves.

New Acquisitions

WattleI love the way the wattle just seems to explode with exuberance from the tight buds into fluffy, exquisitely scented pom poms after a drab and chilly winter.

The yellow stands out against the green paddocks which also yield a secret not seen before…..a combination, I have concluded, that is a mixture of more than adequate rains and the paddocks lying fallow for the past two and a half years. natural insect control

From a distance it looks as if the grass in places is starting to yellow, but on closer inspection the grass is found to be swathes of sundews – a carnivorous plant! Starting off as tiny, delicate roundels, the plant matures and has a small almost insignificant flower that tops it. They are growing in and around the large labyrinth – so it may be that the rings of the labyrinth are acting as swales to hold the New but old.... seating in the labyrinthmoisture in the soil.

A perfect place to observe these plants is from the first of the new additions to the retreat.

Spring not only brings the wildflower season, but a hard rubbish collection in the city.  So the first of the new acquisitions was a swing chair found in a pile for kerbside collection. Permission was sought from the owner and it was dismantled and re- assembled to be a labyrinth viewing and meditation seat. Newer cushions were discovered on a different pile and replaced!

green hood orchidsI was excited to discover a single green hood orchid on my walk down to the lower dam a few weeks back and even more so to green hood orchidsfind them growing in abundance in the back paddock. I had to chuckle at the growing notes on several sites… not grown in soil, water and fertilize frequently – these are in heavy clay and exist on whatever rainfall has come this way and are fertilized by kangaroos and hares (which have left them alone).

new chairsThe newest acquisition came about from a conversation about the first. A colleague’s neighbour was downsizing and had just put out a set of 4 garden chairs for her hard rubbish collection. I followed my colleague home and stacked them in the back of the 4WD and here they are! Perfect for sitting around the fire pit and much more civilized than camping chairs!

 

 

 

 

 

5 steps to overcoming overwhelm

  1. When you are in overwhelm, it is helpful to think about what it is that you can do right now. By looking at the task as a whole and believebreaking it down into smaller, achievable tasks and thinking small for a moment, you will accomplish more. If there is a lack of movement in your life, consider how you can best use this time to move forward. When you have done that, look at today as the beginning of something new and positive, whilst letting go of the past.
  2. Declutter… you know the old adage…..” a tidy desk equals a tidy mind”…. But it’s more than that.. as you declutter; not only your desk, but your life… you free yourself to see a clear horizon and perhaps to answer your life purpose… Acknowledge that the journey is difficult at times. What skills, abilities do you already possess that will enable you to accomplish the tasks ahead? Look at what is positive in your life already……and try to go one day without any complaints….
  3. Believe in abundance. Trust that you can contribute to the Universe … to feel fear and lack is human…. Go into that feeling and learn from it and trust in the process of life…. map out on paper – or a white board – all the good things in your life already… we learn through the hard work that we do. Use your logic, your intuition and your spirituality to infuse your feelings so you become stronger and clearer.
  4. Consider your strengths…..see the light in others and see it reflected in you…..Use your experiences to make yourself stronger and more resilient. Be aware of self deception, we all make good and bad choices, but what is important is to be aware that they are yours…..
  5. Rest and relaxation. Are you getting enough rest or downtime? To do your best you need to have some time out. As written in the Four Agreements, “ You are alive , so take your life and enjoy it…” Set an intention to be in a state of joy and happiness, tune out anxiety and the daily worries to allow a space for enthusiasm and balance to be a part of every aspect of your life.

Change

“Bamboo is flexible, bending with the wind but never breaking, capable of adapting to any circumstance. It suggests resilience, meaning that we have the ability to bounce back even from the most difficult times. . . Your ability to thrive depends, in the end, on your attitude to your life circumstances. Take everything in stride with grace, putting forth energy when it is needed, yet always staying calm inwardly.”  Ping Fu

Another word for change is transformation. There needs to be a certain amount of flexibility when making a change because if you hold on to something too rigidly, either it or you may break.

Sometimes change is forced upon us…..loss of a family member, redundancy or ill health and you need to call upon your reserves of resilience, be tenacious and hold on without being stubborn or inflexible.

There is room at these times for both sadness and laughter.  Allowing yourself to be in the moment and recognising ……and naming…..what emotion you are feeling, certainly helps. When the challenges occur, they are often pathways or stepping stones not only for your own healing but for those of others.

labryinth in green and blueRecently as my father in law was making his transition, I took some time out to do the shopping. About to return home, a friend in a similar circumstance called. Still in the car park, we had a long conversation about death, dying, unsaid conversations with loved ones and supporting those who are left behind. It was a hot summer evening and I had the window down. So totally involved in the conversation, I hadn’t noticed until it finished that there was another car next to me also with the window down. As I started the engine and glanced over, I observed the woman in it sobbing, tears running down her face.  I realized that she had listened to the whole, emotionally raw conversation and that it had touched hlabyrinth painting in red and orangeer as well.

In the days following there was the funeral – tears, sadness and yes, laughter. This was a who lived his life fully. Friends rallied around the family and there was laughter at shared memories. Grief is expressed in many ways and being non judgmental, opens a space within you for growth and change. Times like this give you a different perspective.  The same event is perceived quite differently by each participant. With this in mind there is the  opportunity to slow down, meditate and learn to trust yourself and thus transform.

Like walking the labyrinth, you enter into it and find yourself firstly traveling in one direction and then another. Tantalizingly, you approach what might be that peaceful space in the centre, then move away again. Mindful of the steps that you take, there is a slowing down as the centre is reached and you can rest awhile.

Here is the space and time to have the courage to face your inner conflicts, the grief, the burdens and set them down or offer them up gently and peacefully to the universe/angels or whatever deity you believe in.  Spend as much time here in the centre as you need and then begin to walk the pathway out. You can’t get lost, there is only the one path and you might begin to notice that your step is a little lighter. Allow yourself to feel any emotions, again take note and name them – are they the same as before? Is what is coming up for you negative or positive? What are the triggers? Are you able to clearly communicate your thoughts and feelings to someone who will listen? Be in the moment and breathe……

 

Enchantment

On a  recent visit to the retreat, I was enchanted with the spectre of a double rainbow over the labyrinth.  It was at the end of a hot and humid day and just as the sun was getting ready to slip over the horizon, the clouds parted and there was a most amazing light dancing on the tree tops. A shower in the distance provided the catalyst for a most amazing rainbow.

Did I manage to capture the image? Sadly no…. one of the rare occasions when I had neither camera or smartphone with me.

Earlier in the day, I had shrugged off the lethargy and done a New Moon meditation and vision book page. The next step was to take the vision book into the labyrinth and meditate further on what had come to me.

As I came out of the labyrinth, I was reminded of the benefit of journalling the experiences, many abridged versions appear here in this blog. I remembered a comment from a reader some time ago who suggested that I include video. With that in mind, I walked slowly back to the centre recording the journey, which I would share, except that it seems that the iphone video is not compatible with this platform. The act of mindfulness in walking slowly and holding the camera steadily made for a different experience. The focus was not on myself, but how could I best film the pathway so that viewers would not feel dizzy or sick and that they could really get a “feel” for the rustic nature of this labyrinth.

It cannot be compared to the  pictures of the labyrinths in North America and Europe that are either beautifully paved or have lush green turf….  This is country Victoria coming into summer.. the weeds and the grass have turned to straw brown, the soil is drying and cracking and the patches of gravel are rust red and need to be stepped on carefully.  The mounded soil of the rings allows some long grass and other small hardy plants to grow, but there is no sign of life in the outer ring where the garlic was planted, except for 2 sage plants and a lavender plant that has just flowered. As each step is taken, there is a crunching sound… the dried up plants…. the opposite to the Northern Hemisphere which had record snowfalls on that same weekend.

So whilst the intent has been to share the New Moon experience with you, I can only do so with words and not pictures…. perhaps some enchanted things are not to share……

Postscript….. If you would like to do a virtual walk of the labyrinth, click HERE

 

Busy as a Bee

Busy  beeSpring has arrived, even though most of the wattles have finished flowering and various seeds are sprouting.

I had just about given up on this one…. when I took a closer look at a different shade of green in the centre of the labyrinth.  The outer ring is punctuated by garlic shoots spearing up through the heavy clods of clay – although one or two have been pruned by some hungry creature….. hmmm!! Me-thinks there might be a  pre-seasoned rabbit or two?

The labyrinth construction started on Good Friday this year and we took some time off to enjoy the Rushworth Easter Parade on  the Saturday.  The dogs accompanied us and didn’t enjoy the experience as they were unused to crowds, so I sat out with one of them in a grassy area at the top of town.

Nearby are Oak trees that must have been planted in the Gold Rush days of the 19th century.  They stand guard over the memories of better days for the little town. It is said that it takes around 120 years for an Oak tree to mature and produce a good crop of acorns – these have tolerated drought, heat, cold, frost…. and the ground around them was blanketed with them.

I pocketed a few and took the time to plant 5 in and around the labyrinth. No sign of any growth for many months, except for a variety of plants classed as weeds. A month or so before Easter, I had also gathered some acorns from an Oak tree that was overhanging the fence at my son’s first house out of home. He and his young family were moving out and I thought it would be nice to have some trees as a memento of where they first brought the baby home. Acorns duly potted up, 2 sprouted almost straight away. Not having any use for the pots and thinking I would use the soil for compost later, I left them where they were. To my surprise, just a few weeks ago, I counted another 10 Oak tree seedlings emerging….

Now if only the sage seeds would start doing something!!!! I’m waiting on the Grass Tree seeds to germinate as well. They grow wild in the forest just a couple of kilometers down the track, and many have been vandalized. I bought the seeds, but now I know what they look like, may stop and have a look for some next time I’m down that way.

A single Jacaranda seed, saved from a school excursion my daughter went on years ago, has been potted up and I’ve noticed that the city neighbors Jacaranda trees have some seed pods on them…. time to ask if I can harvest them! Some of the towns to the east of Rushworth have Jacarandas planted in the main streets and look spectacular in flower. I can envision a stand of them along the driveway, perhaps interspersed with the glorious yellow of Kowhai trees competing with the wattles for colour. I still have some Kowhai seeds saved from the house where the children were first raised.

The Oak trees will be planted out closer to where ever the planned retreat building goes, to partly act as shade and being deciduous, as a fire break – but also to offset my carbon footprint. I also see it as building an inheritance for whoever is custodian of the land long after I have gone.

labyrinth12Half a dozen Pomegranate trees are thriving in pots and another 10 or so continue to live in crowded conditions in a corner of the city garden. These are now about 4 or 5 years old and as I thin them out they are growing much stronger and taller.  Having read of the health benefits of pomegranate, i’m sure that I will have a veritable forest of them shortly! As the trunks are rather “leggy”, I’m thinking of using them as a screen in front of the labyrinth.

A pot bound Avocado  that is about 8 years old is destined to make the road trip once I have a couple more seeds sprouting.

mowed area3Visitors are arriving in early October for “A Back to Basics” camping weekend. In preparation an area has been mowed – partly to remove the unwanted Biddy Bush – but mostly to discourage snakes which are likely to be starting to stir after their winter hibernation.  That’s it in the foreground…. 12 months regrowth. It doesn’t have much of a smell to it, but it must contain some volatile oils, because you can pull it up out of the ground (only after a good rain) and put it on the fire – green and wet – and it burns like crazy.

mowing2Driving the tractor is a great time to meditate – you have to be mindful not to mow rocks and to keep fairly straight lines – although I had fun going in circles mowing around the labyrinth.

Another bonus is that a lot of the capeweed flowers were lopped off, and although they might look pretty and the bees seem to love them, I would rather not have them there. It seems that the only natural solution to get rid of them is to mow  before the flowers set seed and mulch, oversow with other grasses and top dress the lot with dolomite.  All the other advice is to spray with roundup or similar…..I don’t really want to become a Monsanto customer. From what I can ascertain, capeweed grows in over tilled soil and where there is little topsoil enriched with humus. It is also a hazard to horses, causing a magnesium deficiency – not that I have any stock at all – except the itinerant kangaroos, who seemed somewhat unhappy that their feed had been mowed and a couple of displaced hares who seem to have moved into next door’s thicket of Biddy Bush.

In between all of this, my city business is also starting to grow with the arrival of Spring. I’m coaching, seeing hypnotherapy clients and this past week has been full of networking activities and late nights. All about that in another post……..