The Ultimate Personal Challenge Is Not What You Think…

 

(Source:Google Images)

(Source:Google Images)

 

 

If I were to tell a story of personal challenge I might choose to talk about those things I’ve ticked off the bucket list.

I’d tell you about flying a powered hang-glider or zipping down the world’s longest zip-wire.

I’d talk about diving with the great white sharks or the time I backpacked through China and ate something that may or may not have still been alive…

I might recount how I free-fell over a waterfall whilst white water rafting or rode thousands of kilometres on a motorbike…

 

But I won’t.

 

I wont because the most difficult personal challenge of all is not only about adventure sports or dangerous animals. It has to do with a simple choice – the choice to be yourself.

 

We live in a world tied up in knots. A world where we arrive full of hope only to become quickly enmeshed in a tangle of societal pressures and the expectations of others.

We are born pegs of all different shapes and sizes who soon learn that we’re supposed to fit neatly into the rows and rows of uniform round holes laid out before us. “Life” becomes a constant quest to knock off our corners and rough edges, to sand ourselves down, smooth ourselves out and make ourselves “fit”.

It is a desire to belong, a need for acceptance that motivates us.

 

It takes courage to be different. To step out of the mold and stand alone. It can be a scary experience standing vulnerable and exposed, being frowned upon for making the place look untidy with your non-conformity, sometimes looking longingly at the comfortable space you’ve vacated, knowing how easy it would be to slip back in and pretend….

 

Being yourself requires having space around you.

It requires being with yourself, knowing yourself, accepting yourself.

It requires stillness, honesty and the willingness to face the unknown.

It involves risk and the ability to embrace failure.

It requires letting go of worrying about the opinions of others or the shoulds or supposed to’s of life.

But most of all it requires the courage to make the choice.

The choice to be the person you were meant to be.

 

That is the ultimate personal challenge….

 

You may enjoy this story of personal challenge and adventure about my fear of heights :)

https://open.abc.net.au/contributions/bird-plane-or-supergirl-32pw4yg/in/contributors/telene+clarke

Listen Up! I’m Busy Telling You What I Most Need To Hear…

The Expert

The Expert

 

Have you ever taken the time to listen to the words that come out of your own mouth?

The advice you’re always giving others?

The pearls of wisdom that fall from your lips to be eagerly seized and added to someone else’s jewel collection and treasured forever?

 

How much of it did you actually hear?

 

I’ve spent years handing out “good” advice to others. (Sincere apologies to those who received some they didn’t actually ask for!)

Shortly after I entered the therapy field I realised something important:

The suggestions I was handing out to others at any given time, were exactly the suggestions I needed to be hearing myself. Continue reading

What if ………

What if...

 

What if ….you’d replied when I enquired about how your day was going instead of turning away? You might have enjoyed hearing some stories about my adventures growing up in a place far from here. Those stories might have inspired you forward into your own possibilities…..if you’d seen me.

 

What if ……you’d thought to smile back when I lifted your pram up the bus steps for you and asked you whether I could help in any way as you struggled to climb aboard? I might have sympathised with you about how hard it is to raise children as a single Mum and shared some funny stories about my own children’s escapades. I could have offered to entertain your “busy one” while you collected yourself and settled the baby. It might have made your day a tiny bit easier….if you’d seen me.

Continue reading

Fail To Succeed

Fail To Succeed

 

For 35 years Diana Nyad had one goal- to swim from Cuba to Florida – a distance of over 177km through waters notorious for sharks, box jellyfish, storms and unpredictable currents.

Four times Diana had attempted the swim and failed. At 65 years of age, and on her 5th attempt Diana finally conquered the treacherous strait last week. It took 2 days and 2 nights in the water – a total of over 53 hours.

 

What struck me most when I read about Diana’s swim was the way she built her success on the back of her failures.

With each attempt and resultant failure, Diana strategically took what she had learned and used it to make changes and adjustments in preparation for her next endeavor. She kept what worked and changed what didn’t. Each new “failure” gave her the next pieces of the puzzle.

She essentially incorporated failure into her strategy for success.

She also refused to give up. Continue reading

The Power Of Now – Have We Taken It Too Far?

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Apparently it’s all about the power of now, of being in this moment, of not living in the past or in the future.

It’s all about being right here, right now…..

 

If that’s what it’s really about then we’re on a winner.

Society seems to be very focused on the NOW.

In fact, it’s a world obsessed with the NOW.

 

I want it NOW.

Give it to me NOW.

I deserve it NOW. Continue reading

Stressed? Take Your Shoes Off!

Jan 2009 083

How often do your bare feet touch the ground?

How long has it been since you took your shoes off and walked on a beach, across some grass or squished your toes in a mud puddle?

I’m guessing for most it may have been a while…

Often it’s the simple things that can make the biggest difference in life.

I spend pretty much all of my time at home barefoot.

If I can get away with not wearing shoes I won’t.

Even if I’m running a workshop or attending a course you can guarantee the shoes will be gone by lunchtime.. :)

 

If I am stressed the first thing I do is to get my feet on the earth and “ground” myself.

I once read about a Swedish study that found those who took their shoes off under their desks at work lived an average of 3 years longer than their shoe-wearing office counterparts.

(I actually can’t find that study on Google so perhaps I made it up- it sounds good anyway…)

So, why should we get our shoes off?

Continue reading

Don’t Just Sit There….

 

 

shed trip aug2007 129

 

I was born an Energiser Bunny.

 

You know the ad for Eveready batteries where the toy bunny keeps on going and going…….and going…??

 

It’s hardly surprising.

My Mum and Dad are Energiser Bunnies too.

They are over 70 and they literally run- all day everyday.

 

I get exhausted just watching them….

 

 

Our family mantra was:

 

“Don’t just sit there- do something!”

 

 

Even “relaxing” always involved something active, something physical or something productive.

 

But I’ve stopped.

Still.

 

I didn’t run out of charge this time.

I simply made a decision to take out my batteries.

To lay them aside and just sit.

 

I decided to go all Buddha and find a new mantra:

 

 

“Don’t just do something- sit there!”

 

 

It’s taken me a while.

 

And lots of practice.

 

But I’ve stopped.

 

Now, where possible, I measure each step.

 

I choose what I do.

 

I do one thing at a time.

 

They call it mindfulness.

 

 

I went walking the other day with a friend.

 

She left me behind.

 

She was bouncing with energy to stride up the path- the same path she takes most days up past a beautiful mountain stream surrounded by trees.

It was stunning.

 

I kept stopping.

 

“Look at those autumn leaves!”

 

“Oh listen to that! What is that bird?”

 

“How clear is that water? Look at those pebbles…”

 

“What kind of plant is this one?”

 

“Feel these red seeds- they’re so smooth!”

 

I stopped to take photos- lots of photos.

Not all of them with a camera…..

 

My friend sighed in exasperation. She was here to walk godammit! She complained that walking with me was like doing a ‘vipassana walk ’ – a meditation walk.

 

 

Hmmm, I’m happy to own that….

 

 

She couldn’t believe that I could dawdle and call it walking.

 

I couldn’t believe she could walk the same path each day and not see any of it….

 

 

The world is full of Energiser Bunnies, all rushing through life in a frenzy of “busy”.

 

What is the hurry do you think?

 

Where is it they are going?

 

And how they will know when they’ve got there….

 

 

I wonder how many will ever take a moment to ask themselves these questions….

 

 

 

As for me, I know there are going to be times when I’ll need my fast shoes on….

But generally, I’m happy to ‘vipassana walk’ my way through life from now on and when someone looks at me sideways and comments on my lack of “doing” – I’ll take it as a compliment!

 

And when I’m not “doing,” I’m happy to just sit… :)

The Art Of Being Busy (Or Why Tornados Spin)

beingbusy

 

 

In my last post I talked about the phenomenon of the Human Tornado (Chaos Theory And The Human Tornado) – those people whose world is filled with chaos, with noise and drama.

Whose life seems to be an unrelenting pattern of lurching from one dramatic crisis to the next.

 

It’s provoked a lot of discussion from people. Most claim to know a spinner or two. Some of us are even brave enough to admit to being one, or at least to having been one at some point in our journey.

 

So, what is it that creates a Human Tornado and what sustains them?

 

We live in a world of Busy.

Busy has become the norm.

Busy has become a societal expectation.

If you are not Busy then you are not “getting anywhere.”

Busy becomes the standard by which we measure our worth.

Busy is also quite addictive…..it gives us a buzz.

 

Human Tornados take Busy up to the next level.

 

Human Tornados become addicted to Chaos.

They run on adrenaline, the thrill of the theatre of it all.

Drama injects their life with the high of playing the lead role- the attention they receive and the resultant sense of importance that comes with that.

The more chaos they create, the more important they feel.

 

Chaos becomes so important that it actually becomes part of the Human Tornado’s identity….and they feel totally lost without it.

Chaos also has another benefit….and it’s one Human Tornados are most reluctant to consider…

 

Chaos keeps us busy thinking – thinking of ways to solve our problems, thinking about how important our problems are, thinking about how to get help to solve our problems, thinking about the “what if” if we don’t solve our problems….

 

Thinking has an important function: thinking stops us from feeling.

 

Thinking overrides, thinking analyses, it searches for logic…and when we become so busy thinking there is no time or space to be with our feelings….and that’s just how Tornados like it.

That’s why Tornados panic when things start to die down.

What looms ahead is stillness and in stillness there is no outside stimulation.

Nothing to distract us.

Nothing to divert us away from ourselves.

There is nothing outside to focus our attention on….so we have to look inside…and that involves feeling…

 

Feeling can be scary.

Feeling can be confronting.

Feeling can be painful.

 

So many of us are not comfortable being with ourselves, of becoming still.

If we stop and feel we may have to acknowledge that we are actually not happy, not content.

That we yearn for more from life…

 

Feeling may also mean that we have to deal with the past- the emotions that we’ve managed to spin down, to conceal below the surface with the busy-ness of thinking.

To finally face up to the things that constant motion has kept us from.

 

Of course these things always present themselves somewhere along the line but many of us like to pretend that they won’t….

 

No wonder so many Human Tornados choose to continue to spin….

 

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What Do You Mean You Want To Be A Dancer? Don’t Be So Ridiculous….

wedgies

 

 

Recently I shared a chat and a drink with a friend who I hadn’t seen  for a while.

 

He was concerned that his son is being pressured at school to choose a career path. At 15 this young man is being told that he has to make a decision and choose his work future.

The presumption was made by the school that his son would choose the academic route, to go to university, study for years and earn a degree.

 

Now this dad is a very successful business owner.

He makes a lot of money and provides jobs for a substantial number of people. He provides a service for a large community and contributes to the local economy.

He never went to university.

“I told him he could do whatever he wants to do,” said the Dad. “To choose something he really wants to do- something he loves. I really don’t mind what. I want him to follow his heart and be happy.”

 

That same day I had talked with a young girl who told me that her dad wants her to become a lawyer.

He’s apparently told her since she was a little girl that she will grow up to study law.

“Are you interested in becoming a lawyer?” I asked.

(Huge eye roll and look of horror.)

“God no! I couldn’t think of anything worse but he keeps going on and on about it, and lining me up work experience and bringing me home all of this stuff to do with law- he just won’t listen!”

 

Today as I was putting out the recycling I happened to notice what was on top. (I’ve been having a bit of a clear out.)

It was one of my Diplomas- whoops!

 

Now, as I’ve mentioned before, I love to learn.

I have lots of bits of paper that I get handed at the end of some blocks of formal learning. Qualifications I’ve needed to hold down certain jobs.

Some of them have taken lots of effort, lots of sacrifice, lots of time and buckets of money!

 

But it’s not the bits of paper that I value.

They’re just bits of paper after all.

It’s the knowledge that I’ve gained, the experiences I’ve had, the people I’ve met, the challenges I’ve faced, the memories I’ve made and the fact that they’ve all been about doing what I love.

They have all had a purpose-to allow me to do the things I’ve been passionate about.

To have “jobs” that I’ve loved to do.

 

 

How many people do you know who hate what they do for a living?

People who stay in a job they detest, waiting only for the day when they can retire…

 

How many of us were directed that way by well-meaning folk around us…or by those who thought they knew what was best for us?

 

We live in a dynamic world where change is the norm.

Where most people will hold around 7-11 different jobs in their lifetimes….

 

How many of us hold onto something that we began years and years ago, based on decisions we made in a different time and place?

How long since we’ve reassessed to see if that decision still fits…

How long since we’ve opened our minds to new possibilities?

Since we’ve tried on something new for size?

 

Since we’ve dared to dream….

 

And how many of us will have the courage to act on that dream?

My New Job- Watching Daytime Television And Drinking Vodka…

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“You can get so confused

That you’ll start in to race………….

Headed, I fear, for a most useless place.

                               The Waiting Place.

…..for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go

Or a bus to come, or a plane to go

Or the mail to come, or the rain to go

Or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow

Or waiting around for a Yes or a No

Or waiting for their hair to grow.

Everyone just waiting…..

(‘Oh The Places You’ll Go’ by Dr Seuss)

 

 

For the first time in my memory I woke up today free, with nothing I have to do, nowhere I have to be. Nothing in my diary, nothing planned….
Sure, I have a multitude of possibilities but each is sitting there as a choice to be made…or not.
There are of course, things that will crop up but essentially, from this moment, I get to choose what I do.

I quit.

 
I stepped out of the waiting room, out of waiting for the “right time”, out of the “have to/ must do/ should do/ urgent things” and into what I really want to do…

(Even if I’m not entirely sure what that is yet…!!)

 
Yes, it is inconvenient (for me and for others), it is scary and apparently it’s also “stupid/a failure/not sensible/ insane/ selfish/ another mid-life crisis/ and all-right-for-some!” but…..

I’m doing it anyway!!

 
I shut the doors, closed my business, finished my studies, said “No” about 500 times and I stepped out of the “World of Obligation” and into the “World of Possibility”- my favourite place in the whole world. A place very few of us ever give ourselves permission to  fully explore.

In fact, we spend our whole lives finding excuses about why we can’t go there- why it’s just too hard, why it’s not possible or sensible and why we just plain can’t!
Yeah, I have those too, but I’ve done it anyway and I believe I’ll be 100% okay.

 
I would never like my life to be one of regret- to wake up one day and utter those awful words….  “I  wish I’d……”

 
So, excuse me while I step out of life as it’s “supposed to be” and into a life of possibility.
Anything might happen, we might end up anywhere (and, let’s face it, you could be hearing my stories about being a checkout chick at the local supermarket in a month or two :) ) but I want to take some time to nurture myself, to be creative, to explore new ideas, to learn new things and to be fully present in my world.

And that sounds okay to me!