50 Again!? The Art Of Growing Old Disgracefully….

A recent birthday card from a so-called friend....

A recent birthday card from a so-called friend….

 

“‘You are coming to my 50th of course?” asked my friend Tim.

I was having a meal at his place the other night.

“I wouldn’t miss it!”

I’ve been to a few of Tim’s 50th’s. They’re always a fun weekend. Maybe there was one of them where he actually turned 50 but I’m not sure…

The older I get the more noticeable it becomes that we all age differently and that the biggest difference is not about the wrinkles, grey hair or saggy bits we start to get. Instead it all boils down to how we see ourselves and the story we tell ourselves about ageing.

I’ve met young people who are “old.” Not in that wise “old-soul” spiritual sense but in a life-weary let’s-just-get-this-over-and-done-with sense. They have a picture of life and their duties and obligations in it and they put their head down and simply get on with the job of ploughing through it just like they’re supposed to. Ageing becomes a series of tick-the-boxes milestones. You feel worn out just talking to them and can’t believe it when you find out they’re only 22…

At the other end I’ve met a host of 90+ers who are younger than me. You know the ones who run around having all kinds of adventures and learning new things and when they tell you their age in numbers it’s almost impossible to believe. My 101 year-old Great Aunt whips her car through city traffic with a confidence that I’ll never have. Her Dad died in his sleep at 88…after a night out dancing.

 

So, what is it that creates such a vast difference.

What is it that makes us “old” or “young”? Continue reading

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

How will You Create Your Year?

trust

 

What will this year be for you?

Each January I have a word that comes to mind that sets the course of my year.

After it has revealed itself I write and paint it everywhere as a reminder. (Yep, even in the toilet…!)

Then I make it part of my everyday life.

Today I found my theme for 2014.

 

In preparing for my new year I reflected on the past 12 months.

 

For me 2013 was the year of trust.

It was the year to open my heart and be vulnerable. To let go of old conventions and fears around work and money and society’s expectations. A year of letting go of the notion of “work” and “income”. Of letting go of monetary measurements around value and self-worth. Continue reading

How To Change Your Life In 3 Seconds.

gifts...

 

It only took 3 seconds….but it must have seemed  a life-time.

The accelerator jammed stuck and the car shot across the road before he even realised what was happening.

 

He’d just dropped his wife and son off for an appointment.

Now he saw he was heading straight at them.

He wrenched the wheel frantically and made the split-second decision to point the car into a brick wall to his left. The car slammed into the wall, ricocheted back, bounced forward and then his wife was lying apparently lifeless on the bonnet in front of him.

 

He remembers running up and down the street yelling, his First Aid training forgotten and inaccessible to him.

His son took charge.

“My son became the parent and I became the child”, he tells me.

They both believed his wife was dead. Continue reading

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

you-must-quote

 

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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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

Not Convenient? Do It!

life begins….

 

Some days it seems that just about everything in my life is inconvenient…and I quite like it that way.

It recently occurred to me that the good things in life, the real things, are often those which are the most inconvenient.

They are things that require all those nasty “hard work” words-

Things like:

Focus

Perseverance

Time

And Effort…

Things that may require saving, waiting, being patient, co-operating with others, making sacrifices and difficult choices, decision-making and commitment. 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

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