Finding Your Tribe



Who is your tribe?

Who makes up the group you surround yourself with, the group you “belong” to?

Does your tribe consist of the people you grew up with? The ones you went to school with?

Are they the people who live near you?


What ties you to your tribe? Do you have similar interests, play sport together or have kids who attend the same school?


Lots of factors determine who we spend our time with and who we identify with.

Quite often who we mix with are people who think like we do, who hold similar beliefs and opinions.

Sometimes what we like most about them is that they’re so much like us…..


Feeling that you belong is incredibly important to most of us. We have a basic need to feel liked and accepted. We long to “fit” somewhere, to find our place in the world.


Some people belong to the same tribe their entire lives. Others spend their lives flitting around the fringes looking desperately for a place to belong and never quite finding it. Some spend a lifetime trying to join a tribe that is never going to accept them into its fold.

And some of us find the need to change our tribe as we grow and change as human beings.

What happens when you wake up one day and realise that you don’t quite fit anymore? That you seem to be headed in a different direction maybe, or simply that your tribe is no longer a place where you can be who you really are?


Many of us try to hold on, afraid that if we leave our tribe we will be left alone forever…. (to wander lost and lonely as a cloud…) :)

That terror of being alone is pretty much up there with death on most people’s fear chart.

For that reason many people stay with their tribe long after it no longer feels right. When those people who surround us no longer reflect who we really are.


Transitioning between tribes can be a terrifying experience. Knowing that you no longer fit the old but having no idea how to find the new.

Knowing that there must be people out there like you.

People with similar beliefs and ideals.

People who think and feel like you.

People with fresh new ideas.

People willing to embrace you on a whole new level. Continue reading

Teachers Come in All Shapes And Sizes



Our teachers come in many forms….


They wandered into the shop I was browsing in, carrying inside with them a friendly banter and bright smiles. They’d just been out for their weekly coffee together.

The aunt wore a t-shirt which declared ‘Nobody is perfect…except for me!’

The niece wore a mischievous grin and her cheeky “Hello!” lit up the shop. The store manager and I were soon drawn into the pair’s hilarious ribbing of each other. Their dry humour and snappy come-backs had us in stitches.


I’d seen them before on the “Special Bus.”

Our society of labels would call them “intellectually disabled.”


Their love for each other was apparent as their comedy routine became more and more wicked.

Every time I thought I couldn’t laugh any harder I did.

Through the tears of laughter I happened to look past them out of the window into the bright sunshine and saw there a world of scurrying suits all too focused on “work” and “doing’ and clock-watching to even notice the blue sky above.

At that moment I had a blinding insight. Continue reading

The World Is Full Of People Who Will Tell You That You Can’t….



I once found myself, through no fault of my own, in the way of a giant corporate organisation.

They told me to run.

I refused.

They were so big and powerful that they knew they could intimidate and bully – and get away with it.

They told me to give in or they would crush me like a walnut.

I said no, I was prepared to fight them.

They laughed and threatened to destroy me.


I sought help from a lawyer.

He laughed too, told me I was insane, charged me for the advice and went sailing….


I went searching. Everyone told me the same thing – give in, you can’t win.

I had to make a decision – to believe the “truth” that everyone knew as fact or to believe that I could do this.

One choice would make me a victim and the other would honour my integrity.

There was only one option for me.


I stood in front of them and called their bluff.

When they realised that I was serious they became irritated and began to push and shove.

The harder they pushed the firmer I stood.

Was I willing to lose everything I had? they shouted angrily.

You bet, I replied.

I was.


I kept searching and, with help, found the right people.

They were at the top of their field. I would have to borrow (lots) to pay their bill.

They heard me and believed in me.

I hired them.


The bully was most annoyed and very surprised. It brought in the big guns. It had to be very sure of itself now. I had become more than a simple irritation.

It offered a deal- the chance to walk away with something rather than risk it all.

I’ll take the risk, I said.

At the courtroom door they towered over me and said:

You may win the battle but you’ll never win the war….


I won the war.


The world is full of people who will tell you that you can’t.

They are wrong……

When you believe in yourself anything is possible.


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6 Reasons Why We Should Celebrate The Good Things That Happen To Other People

good job


Are you one of those people who celebrates the successes of others?

Do you get a thrill of excitement and joy watching a lucky lottery winner claiming their prize?

Do you get goosebumps and a lump in your throat when someone achieves their dreams- even if you don’t know them?

Are you overwhelmed with emotion watching someone being presented an award or a prize?

Do you feel genuine happiness when a friend excitedly tells you about their pay rise/ their fabulous new house/ the trip to Europe they just won with the ticket you gave them for their birthday / or their gorgeously perfect new girl/boyfriend?

You do?

Well guess what?

You’ve just become part of a minority group. Continue reading

Want Your Kids To Thrive? Just Add Some Adversity..


Source:Google Images

Source:Google Images


Scenario 1: A Time In The Past

“I feel so sorry for those kids.”

The police officer looks at the young pair, his face etched with concern and pity. “Their Mum’s been sent to the psych ward again? It’s so sad… ”

He’s right. These kids have had a tough go of it. Mum has a mental illness and has obviously been using drugs again –  that’s her pattern. She’s been sent off to the city once more for treatment.

The kids are waiting for someone to come and collect them.

Mum’s current boyfriend is in prison.

There are no relatives so it’s the Grandma of one of Mum’s ex-boyfriends who will make the trip down to collect them and care for them until Mum is deemed well enough to take responsibility for them again.


In the meantime they sit, busy with their homework, the older sister capably assisting her younger brother with his spelling list.

They are composed, matter-of-fact.

I know these two. They are polite, co-operative, yet guarded and protective of their Mum.

They call me only when they are in serious trouble. The rest of the time I am invisible to them – barely acknowledged.

They know I will not fuss or ask questions.

I know how much it costs them to have to ask for help – they have a fierce pride and sense of dignity.

I have enormous respect for them.


Our conversation is polite yet we avoid anything personal or emotional. Sympathy embarrasses them. They do not want pity. The girl sends me a grateful look of relief when I tell the police officer that I will wait with them until the carer arrives.

After all, we have done this all before… Continue reading

Do You Assume Or Ask?



He ambushes me as I come up from the beach.

He always has an opinion to share.

I hardly have time to say good morning when he points to the driftwood in my hand.

“You shouldn’t burn that in your wood stove,” he lectures sternly.

“Oh, okay then,” I say agreeably.

“It’s a stupid thing to do- it’s full of salt.”

“I guess it would be.”

“I’d have thought you’d know better than that?”

“I’ll keep it in mind” I say.

He snorts in disgust and marches off, shaking his head and I hear him say scornfully to his companion “Guess some people have more money than sense if they can afford to rust out their wood stoves..”

Continue reading

The Boy, The Old Man And The Donkey…



A simple story today…


Once upon a time an old man, a boy and a donkey were going to town.

The boy rode on the donkey and the old man walked alongside.

They were chatting and enjoying the day.

As they went along they passed some people who remarked loudly that it was a shame that the old man was walking and the boy was riding.

The man and boy thought maybe the critics were right, so they changed positions.

A little later they passed another group of people who observed ‘What a shame, he makes that little boy walk!’

So the old man and the boy then decided they’d both walk. Continue reading

The Prime Minister Is A Bully













Dear Julia,

I saw you on the news last week announcing your new anti-bullying strategy.

After 30 years of working with young people it is a topic dear to my heart.


You explained some of the figures:

2,500 official suicides in Australia last year with over 80% being linked to bullying…horrific isn’t it?


Who are the bullies?

They are those who are in a position to have power over others – those who have the ability to influence the lives of others in a negative way by what they say and what they do.


Who wields the most power in our society at the highest levels?

Obviously those in authority and those with money – big business, big institutions and politicians.


Julia, I could almost guarantee to you that a disproportionate number of those suicides occurred in rural Australia.

A young man in the country is almost twice as likely to take his own life.


If that young man happens to be gay that figure rises by another 30%….


Why is that do you think?


Because he’s not just bullied in the schoolyard and made invisible by his school.

Not just shunned by his family and rejected by his community.

Not simply ostracized from his church and marginalized by society in general….

It starts at the top Julia, with you and Tony and those we’ve chosen to “lead” us.


This young man is told by the leaders of his country that he has no value. That he is an inferior citizen, deprived of his basic human rights.

This is about much more than simply “same-sex marriage”.
It is the epitome in hypocrisy Julia, to talk about stopping bullying and then to enshrine into law that it’s okay to discriminate against someone based on their sexuality.


You give the ultimate bullies, the haters who hide behind the thin veneer of religion the legal right to bully.

You pour taxpayer funds into “Independent” schools, then anoint them with the right to discriminate as they please – to refuse to employ someone based on their sexuality, the right to sack staff if they’re suspected to be gay.

You grant them permission to destroy the lives of people who don’t fit their narrow-minded world view.


If that’s not bullying then please tell me what is Julia?


It’s about as acceptable as having a rule that people with red hair or “sticky-out ears” can’t be politicians……..


Essentially you condone bullying and hatred at the highest of levels, actually funding bullies to perpetuate hate crimes against good people.

Strangely ,you don’t even seem to notice how out of step this is with the rest of the population and the rest of the world…you don’t seem to remember that we’re living in 2013…


So excuse me Julia (and your mirror twin Tony).

Excuse my cynicism.

Bullying certainly needs to be addressed in this country in a big way.
Stop spouting platitudes and start leading.


If you really want change to happen then you need to start at the top.


Your target market, those most at-risk young people, have inbuilt crap detectors.

They’re distrustful and weary of people talking at them.

For them the real proof comes not in what we say, but in what we do.

If you seriously want them to learn how to stand up to bullies then grow a backbone and do it.


Show them how to find that courage inside…..


I don’t want to go to any more funerals.


Yours Sincerely,


Square Pegs, Round Holes


I recently received a beautiful bunch of flowers. I was admiring them and said to Mum: “Aren’t they gorgeous! I’ve always loved gerberas…” Mum only gave a little sigh and a slight eye roll before looking at me and saying…”Well, that’s nice…but they’re actually marigolds and sunflowers….”

“Oh, is that sort of close?,” I asked hopefully.

I’m not particularly good at knowing all of the stuff that you’re “supposed” to know.

I can identify native plants in a flash. I can remember the scientific names of all of the members of the kangaroo family, tell a hammer from a chisel and talk for hours on how our minds work. I can remember all the words of 70’s songs and know a good quality ukulele when I hear one.

But….. I have no idea how to select a good wine, know which lipstick doesn’t smudge or how to cook a macaroon. I have no idea who is a “celebrity” and why they’re a celebrity, what colour is in fashion this autumn or the name of the latest “must-have” technology. I don’t recognize sports stars or know the plot of the evening soapie. If these subjects come up at a quiz night and I’m on your team well…..whoops, sorry!!

It’s not that I have anything against these subjects, it’s just that they hold no interest for me and never have. I’m not at all bothered by the fact that others care about these things- go for it! They’re simply not relevant to me or to how I choose to live my life.

What we sometimes forget is, that’s okay! It’s actually okay to be “different”. Media and social norms would have us believe that “everyone” thinks things like the above are important. They have a vested interest in doing so.

I’ve found that there’s a whole world of people who are quite happy to prove that theory wrong. People who are quite comfortable to be square pegs in the world of round holes….


Lighthouses and Ostriches


There are a small group of people in my neighbourhood who have recently decided to stand up and do something about an issue that is having a huge effect on our community: in this case it’s to do with the destruction of our local coastline. In finding the courage to speak out, they have opened themselves up to abusive phone calls, nasty letters and bullying by those who feel their “rights” may be infringed in some way.

Those protesting are the “againsters”-  people who react aggressively and forcefully to protect and justify their behaviours, even if it’s blatantly obvious that those behaviours are damaging and impactful on the environment and on other people. They are “against” any changes to the way things are. No compromise. No discussion. Just plain NO.

They are supported by the bystanders, the ostriches-the “she’ll be right mate/ ignore it and it will go away” mob- those who prefer to live in Comfort Land where everything has a fairytale ending….(insert fairy sprinkles here :) )

In our society people love to gang up and ridicule those who have the courage to stand up for something. Those who choose not simply to put up with things. Those who are willing to speak up, to blow the whistle, to fight for things, to stand for something. We have a host of derogatory names for them- dobbers, whingers, troublemakers, greenies, lefties, loonies, whistleblowers, idealists…(yeah, I am being polite here!)

I recently read a book that had a profound impact on me (‘Wilful Blindness’ by Margaret Heffernan.) One of the things that was discussed was how the need to fit in and be accepted allows us to overcome our moral judgements. How a fear of standing out from the crowd, a need to be accepted, overrides our moral beliefs about speaking up, even when faced with the blinding obvious. Even when we know what’s happening around us is wrong.…

I know of a man in a small country town. He is a violent, abusive, nasty drunk who beats and terrorises his wife and children. The local police know him well. This is common knowledge yet… he has lots of friends, he is popular at the town pub, everyone is pleasant to him around town and (get this!) he gets to be Father Christmas in the town Christmas celebrations. The local kids sit on his knee and he hands them out presents. Everyone conveniently “overlooks” the fact that he is a violent and dangerous man who should be the last choice to hold this position in a community. (After all, how different from the spirit of Christmas could you possibly get??)

Because “everyone” thinks he is a “nice bloke,” no one has the guts to be the first to stand up and call him on it. People follow the lead of “everybody else” and nobody does a damn thing. And so, the message all around is that his behaviour is okay. No one wants to be the first to stand (ie: create a scene/ cause a ruckus/ make a fuss/ stir things up.)

So, they do nothing.

It’s much easier not to, so they don’t.

And, as one, a whole community combines to perpetuate something that is unacceptable.

We can be awake or we can be the metaphorical ostrich (and sometimes that’s okay-after all, we can’t stand up for everything or we would become totally overwhelmed and burn ourselves out- trust me-tried that one-doesn’t work!)

We do however, have a choice in not joining in with those whose sole purpose seems to be in cutting down the lighthouses who choose to take a stand.

Sometimes you will agree with their cause and sometimes you will not.

The very least we can do is to defend their right to stand for something…