Sh*t Happens

Oh well!

Oh well!

Sh*t happens.

To me, to you, to the stranger down the road.

Special things break, pipes leak, relationships finish, jobs end and quite often there’s not a damn thing we can do about it. There’s nothing it seems we can do to change things.

But we do have one choice. We can remain a victim of circumstance or we can let it go and get on with life….but that, of course, is much easier said than done…

Being able to practise acceptance and to acknowledge that sometimes things simply are what they are, can be a tough ask.

But, give this a go.

Write up these two simple words and whenever the poo hits the fan and you’re feeling hard done by say them out loud:

“Oh well..” Continue reading

Dealing With Disaster- The Power Of Editing

city on fire..

 

It’s been another big week in the world…one where the cold fingers of fear have been felt across the planet.

The ripple effect is profound- each event of carnage has a huge impact on the collective psyche.

Something that has occurred on the other side of the world can affect us greatly….

 

Living in a global world is not always easy.

Technology has made “news” instantly accessible- we are on 24/7 live-stream right into our own lounge-rooms…the place we are supposed to feel most safe.

 

Some days it seems like there is no escape from it all….

 

Human beings are strange creatures.

We have a fascination with the negative and an almost obsessive compulsion to know all of the details, no matter how distressing.

We seem to be unable at times to self- regulate incoming information, to discriminate between what is useful and what is potentially harmful to us.

We simply open ourselves up to the avalanche of incoming information and let it sweep over us in an unedited pile…

 

We are then hard-wired to try to make sense of things: to ask the question that often has no satisfactory answer…..

“Why?”……

“Why” often leads us down the garden path and right into the darkness of fear…

 

Put up your hand if you still have images in your head of things that you viewed on television years ago?

Or a vivid memory of something that you once saw on the front page of a newspaper that still disturbs you?

 

So often we allow other sources to fill our head with an emotionally toxic poison,  to immerse ourselves in it completely and then have no idea how to get it out of our system

Eventually it seeps through our entire being until we become paralysed with it- it’s called fear….

 

The media has a big part to play in the illusion of fear.

It’s generally only interested in the shock/ horror value of the “news” it selects.

“Good news doesn’t sell” is the old adage…I’d like to believe that there’s a time coming soon where that changes…

 

So, how can we protect ourselves?

 

Here are a couple of simple tips:

1. Edit Incoming Information:

How much do you really need to know?

Something terrible has happened…but how many times do you need to see the same footage over and over?

Turn the TV off. Once you know the general details that can be enough. Check in occasionally for updates but use the remote control’s off button- that’s what it’s for….

Skim read the headlines but avoid the gratuitous detail. How much suffering do you need to immerse yourself in?

Does knowing every traumatic detail make you feel better or worse? Often we keep piling the bad stuff in without even noticing the cumulative negative effect it’s having on our own wellbeing.

2.    Do A “Re- Edit:”

Bad stuff happens. It always will. But, like everything, it’s how we choose to see it that really counts.

We can view it through the eyes of fear or we can choose to see things in a different way altogether.

Sure we can see bad but if we take a different look we can also see good.

 

If the media chooses not to show us the good news we can create it ourselves based on what we already know about the human species….

Adversity often brings out the best in us!

 

The human spirit is one of the most incredible forces on this planet.

The acts of bravery, the kindness and compassion, the unconditional support and the outpouring of love that follows any tragic event is often life-changing. To watch a community, a nation, or a world, rally around those in trouble unites us all.

(The media usually gets to that part a week or so after the event, when the bad news has become old news…)

After working with so many people affected by disaster a common theme I’ve found is the overwhelming gratitude that people learn to have for those beautiful people who give so willingly of their time, their love, their money and their support.

The common feedback down the track is that something bad has been far outweighed by the good that follows it…that people’s faith in humanity is often restored in a way that they believed was not possible.

So, you have a choice about whether you see victims or whether you see heroes– what you choose will have a profound impact on how you cope.

Remember, we get what we focus on….

Just a couple of thoughts but ones that work for me! :)

Bushfire Update

A quick bushfire update:

The fire was declared “contained” over the weekend and some cooler weather and even a few light showers have helped to calm things down again. It has been a busy time though (well, that’s my excuse for not posting sooner!)

I noticed a lot of cars driving around all week filled to the brim with all of “the important stuff.” There were lots of conversations about what people had selected to take and why.

Some people made practical choices, including basic food supplies and clothing. Others did the sentimental thing with a car stuffed full of memories. Still others took almost nothing because they were simply unable to decide in the stress of the moment. Everyone I talked to took their pets. One friend told me she had run back to her house and grabbed the two new dresses she’d recently bought –she was damned if they were going to be burnt before she’d had a chance to wear them! Most said they’ll make some different choices next time- some quite profound, some minor.

I guess on a practical level it’s given us all yet another practice run to prepare for next time.

When I re-read my last post I realised I’d actually forgotten to include the original positive learning that had prompted me to write the post so I’ll share it now.

It came from a lovely lady who lost everything she owned in the 2005 bushfire. When I talked to her soon after she said:

“I used to have all of these nice things- things that were too special to use. Things like family heirloom crystal, expensive sheets that I used for special guests and lovely collectible things that were locked away in cupboards so that they didn’t get broken. I had art materials that were too nice to use and “good” clothes that I saved for special occasions. Now I have nothing. If I had one piece of advice it would be to use your nice things- take them out and use them every day. Wear the things that make you feel good and enjoy what you have- every single day.”

It was a great piece of advice and one that had a profound influence on the choices I make.

As for her, she has thrived and actually considers that event a major positive turning point –she is loving life!

So, break out that precious stuff and enjoy what you have.

After all, that’s what it’s for..

Bushfire-What Would You Save?

Have you ever done the hypothetical “If there was a fire, what would I save?”

Well I live in a bushfire zone and yesterday was given a “catastrophic” fire rating by the fire authorities due to high temperatures, strong winds and the possibility of lightning strikes. Unfortunately, by mid-morning, the worst happened and soon a large bushfire was raging out of control-our fifth large one within the last seven years or so.

So, there I was, following my bushfire action plan and preparing myself to evacuate. After grabbing my survival box and rounding up a bewildered dog and a very grumpy duck I stood there and asked myself the question I always ask: “What should I take with me?” I had in my hands my three standard no-brainers: my laptop, my camera and my ukulele. As I looked around I saw lots of things that are important to me-mainly family things, some favourite artworks, childhood photos, presents from friends, childhood collections… Lots of things that I love and that have great meaning to me. But it felt okay to close the door and walk away.

I used to be a person who was very attached to my “stuff”. As I sat in my car in the heat and watched the billowing clouds of smoke over the hill I had time to think about the impact that living in a bushfire zone has had on me.

Obviously a lot of the impact has been negative (and that is something I may talk about at some time) but there have also been a lot of positive things that have come from the fires. I thought I might share some of those. They are things that I have learned from my own fire experiences and from the courageous and inspirational people I have worked with. I have watched those who have coped, those who have not coped and those who have thrived.

These are some of the things I have learned:

  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. There’s nothing like a catastrophe to give you some perspective. How much of our time do we spend worrying about the piddly stuff? All of the unimportant, trivial things? Sometimes it is only when we get a huge fright, a wake-up call, that we remember what’s important.
  • “Stuff” and “things” are not important. So many of us seem to dedicate our lives to getting “things”. “Things” can disappear in an instant. They come and they go. People are the most important things.
  • Live every day as if it is your last. Life is unpredictable-and that is a good thing! It reminds us to be present, to live in the now, to make good use of our time and to enjoy life.
  • Each of us is stronger than we think. It is not until we are tested that we remember how courageous, how brave and how resilient we can be. It is often in adversity that we are reminded of just how amazing we actually are.
  • The majority of people are good people. It is in a crisis that we often see the best in people. It is when we pull together, when we give and when we show that we care. It is when people show a generosity of spirit and a willingness to do whatever they can. It is when people volunteer their time, their expertise, their money and their compassion.
  • Everything will be okay in the end. No matter how unlikely that seems at times there is always a way through and there is something better down the track. Trust and have faith that things will work out.
  • Take time to appreciate what you have. Be grateful every day for those around you and take care not to take things for granted. Tell those close to you that you love and appreciate them-often.
  • Remember to focus on the important things. The things that really matter. Make time and do it. Don’t wait, do it now….. don’t wait for a bushfire to remind you :)