Learning To say No…and Yes…And No….

 

killer-duck

(‘I Quit– Episode 3)

So I had quit everyday life, gone home and put up the do not disturb sign.

I had created a space for myself. Phew….

Knock, Knock. Ring, Ring…

It began almost at once and came usually in the form of those irritating and pressure-laden “question-mark words”..why? when? what if….??? followed by helpful (doom-laden) unsolicited advice delivered with just a tiny undertone of judgement to help get me back on track…. Toot!!

I realised I had to learn how to defend my “Telene Space” and to protect myself from everything and everyone “out there” who wanted to pull me back into the collective comfort zone…. (where everyone wears sensible shoes and carries umbrellas for rainy days.)

I could not bring the outside in with me. In essence, I had to create a sanctuary for myself without the pressure, (no matter how well-meaning.)

After all, I could do pressure well enough from the inside, thank you very much.

I had to change both how I thought and the way in which I did things and I couldn’t do that with society’s “shoulds “ raining all over me like lava bombs.

 

Hmmm. Defend the space. Time to select my weapons of choice…

Rotten tomatoes? (Fun but messy.)

Unleash the killer duck? (Nah, he was too busy loving everyone’s shoes.)

Good old avoidance-and-hope-they’ll-go-away? (I can only hide in here so long and pretend I’m not home..)

I had to step up and to learn to speak up, to find my voice.

(Use your words Telene, use your words..)

Feeling a little bruised and vulnerable (with a fair smattering of “scared shitless” tossed in for good measure), I kept it simple. It became almost a survival strategy for those first few months and I made it a focus.

I practised learning two words: Yes and No.

Generally speaking, the Yes was for me and the No was for othersContinue reading

20 Ways To Remind Yourself That You’re Still Alive!

kermit-383358_1280

Where did all of the silliness go?

How come people don’t seem to have plain, old fun anymore?

And just when did life become so damned serious?

Maybe it’s time to play…….

When was the last time you:

 

  1. Slid down a slippery dip yelling “Wheeeeee!!”?
  2. Had a serious phone conversation into a banana?
  3. Flicked your peas across the table at someone?
  4. Lay down on soft grass and watched clouds passing overhead?
  5. Accidentally-on-purpose fell into water with all of your clothes on?
  6. Totally-on-purpose jumped into water with all of your clothes off ?!
  7. Spun around in circles until you fell over?
  8. Stood on a warm rock with bare feet?
  9. Stuck your head out of the car window and barked like a dog?
  10. Blew a raspberry on someone’s tummy?
  11. Dared yourself to do something scary?
  12. Built a sandcastle?
  13. Played hopscotch with an ice-cream in your hand?
  14. Laughed uproariously at your own joke until you cried?
  15. Rolled down a hill?
  16. Learned something new just for the hell of it?
  17. Walked in the rain without shoes?
  18. Tried to lick your own elbow?
  19. Read your favourite childhood Dr. Seuss book out loud to someone?
  20. Had a long (loud) conversation with an invisible friend?

 

Chances are it’s been a while..

So, why are you still sitting there?

Pick one and go do it!

Yes, right now…..and then let us know how you went. …please!! :)

PS. Photos most welcome!

 

 

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

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

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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Chaos Theory And The Human Tornado….

Source: Google Images

Source: Google Images

The chaos theory is real.

I know, I’ve seen it.

 

Have you ever encountered a Human Tornado?

I’m sure you’ve known one:

One who whirls through life in a frenzy of reactive movement and action.

One whose every moment is filled with noise and busy-ness.

One who always has something happening, something difficult going on, some crisis that needs to be dealt with….?

One who always seems to be smack bang in the middle of some drama or another……

 

Human Tornados can be exhausting to be around.

Their life is one of commotion and turmoil, one of constant fuss and upheaval.

 

They are like theatrical actors starring in their own endless Greek tragedy, waving their arms dramatically as they stagger through an eternal glorious death scene…..wailing hysterically and crying out:

“Look at me…Look at me…”I SAID BLOODY WELL LOOK AT ME!!!”

 

Human Tornados need a lot of energy to keep spinning.

They manage to generate a lot of that energy themselves.

I guess they’ve built up quite a bit of momentum over time.

Most of them, after all, have had years of practice.

 

The rest of that energy they get from anyone who happens to get caught up in their maelstrom, any poor sucker who happens to wander innocently past and utter the fatal words: “Are you okay?” or “Can I help in some way?”

One moment you’re feeling happy, calm and peaceful and the next you’re just another piece of the proverbial pooh that’s flying all around you.

Human Tornados love to share – chaos is how they love to do it.

 

How often do we get drawn into other people’s lives?

Swept up into problems that are not ours to be in?

How often do we allow ourselves to be caught up in the dramas of others and to become strained and tense and anxious as a result of this?

How often do we find ourselves swept up in a chaotic tempest that is not of our own making and then have no idea how to extricate ourselves from the debris of the aftermath?

 

Human Tornados can be downright dangerous.

They deplete those around them and they create undue stress and anxiety in those they come into contact with.

They also become so caught up in the importance of twirling magnificently, that they are oblivious to their impact on others and the destruction they leave in their wake.

(After all, being a Human Tornado is such an important job :) )

 

And the funny thing is, when you’ve rendered assistance to the poor Tornado, heard its desperate cries, when you’ve weathered the storm and done what you can, when it finally seems things are quieting down, that the end of the storm is approaching, that there will soon be peace and calm…

 

It is then that you will notice something quite strange.

 

The Human Tornado will grow increasingly uncomfortable and fidgety…almost as if they find the calm oppressive and the silence deafening…

And it won’t take long at all before you notice them start to spin, slowly at first, then gaining momentum like a Whirling Dervish until they are back doing what they know best, drawing in chaos and confusion in giddy ecstasy.

Until they are delightedly creating their next drama and inviting you into the carnage with a gleeful cry of delight:

“Oh poor me, poor me! Look at me, look at me! Come on in and help me…. Please??”

 

After all it seems, there is nothing more disturbing for a Human Tornado than stillness…. and the terrifying thought of having to be alone with themselves…

 

Just a thought…

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?

An Apple Called Noodles

Source:Google Images

Source:Google Images

 

 

I used to look out of a Window.

Now I’m running free, on Safari, going OS and exploring the world.

I’ve even spotted a Firefox and a Mountain Lion!

I’ve started my own Garage Band and met Mac The Ripper…

 

Yes, I’ve seen the light (insert “Hallelujah Chorus” here.)

My creativity has been unleashed and I’ve entered the Brave New World (to me) of Apple Mac.

No more Dinosaurs- (Riding The Dinosaur) Steggie can retire gracefully back to the swamp…

 

Windows was about structure, something I had to “learn”. My left brain used to hurt. Noodles (my Mac) seems to flow, a bit like a mind-map. Now my whole brain gets to hurt!

At times Noodles makes perfect sense. At other times she makes no sense at all-a bit like my brain really. She has a bit more common sense, a lot more intuition but a lot less logical organisation (which makes it bloody hard to find where I left things….)

 

My desktop looks like someone vomited all over it.

 

Sometimes I can work Noodles out all by myself. Sometimes she tells me off with big red exclamation marks if I do something stupid. At other times I have to ring the Apple Help Desk and sob pitifully with highly technical questions. (Like: “Where’s the “off” button again??”)

They humour my cries of desperation and frustration, patting me on the head and reassuring me I’ll get better soon…..and the sooner the better!

(They preface every answer with a surprised “Gosh, no one’s ever asked that question before!”)

She’s taking time….lots of it. I’ve used up a whole year’s internet in a few weeks just doing “Tutorials For REAL Dummies.” I’m having to learn a whole new language- the language of fruit…

I spent 2 whole days trying to work out how to cut out an image. That used to take me 2 minutes. My duck keeps looking at me ‘cos he thinks I’m talking to him. It’s not actually “duck” that I’m saying- just something that rhymes with it…

Noodles does clever things amazingly- it’s the simple things that are keeping me bamboozled.

So, I’m on a learning curve- a steep one with muddy slopes.

If this post comes out upside down, back-to-front with a picture of a jellyfish driving a bus then you’ll know why- it wasn’t me, it was Noodles.

And she definitely has a mind of her own…..