Delving deeper into life & happiness

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Life wisdom and Yoga assisted mind alchemy!

To get stronger you need to be strong

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back.. the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.” Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

When I registered for Yoga Teacher training, I knew we would be covering all sorts of topics like anatomy, philosophy, asana, but what I didn’t expect was the abundance of ‘life wisdom’ that one inspiring teacher and a curious group of yogis could teach one another. Apart from acknowledging that yoga is truly homemade chicken soup for the soul, here are a few nuggets of wisdom that energized and inspired me to ‘think and be yoga’ off the mat.

The power of alignment
The greatest benefit of a pose is experienced when your body is in optimal alignment. This applies to life. When you think, say and do what is in alignment with your true nature and core values, the rest of life falls into place and you have the chance to experience the fullest expression of your life. Decision-making becomes easier, as you fully own your reality.

“Life is the business of decision-making”
Said a soulful yogi at training. If you don’t make decisions, you run the risk of decisions being made for you. Life serves you a lesson or two when decisions are not made or taken out of our hands. Life doesn’t happen to you, it responds to you. Each time it responds louder and louder so listen to the cues. Sometimes you don’t have control over what happens to you, but you have choice. You decide how to perceive a situation and how to react. This makes you powerful. There’s a roaring lioness in all of us just waiting to create wonders for you. Once you find her, make sure she’s always within grasp.

Create Space and then Stability
Create space in your life by letting go of what no longer serves you. Self-limiting beliefs, guilt, anger, resentment, clouds the mind from seeing what is. Letting go can be tough, but start with an intention and plant that seed. Who knows, you may have the space to invite, build, create something strong and amazing into the space you’ve created.

The power of Community
This should never be underestimated. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people is helpful to step out confidently and declare who you really are and bask in your own sunlight. It takes enormous courage to go the distance alone but even greater courage to extend your hand, be seen, and open up to others. Not everyone will like you so surround yourself by a like-minded tribe and radiate the essence of you.

Happiness is an inside job
You can’t ask anyone else to take responsibility for your happiness. Equally so, to let someone navigate your emotions is to give someone power over you. Define what happiness means to you and define your roadmap to cultivate your own happiness. Don’t wait a lifetime to work out what happiness means to you. Yoga makes me happy, and the cool thing is, it’s an internal experience and feeling I can only create for myself. That’s pretty darn awesome.

To get stronger you need to be strong
On the mat, you can see yourself getting physically stronger through practice and the mind body connection shows you that effort equates to a result. If you can achieve something challenging on the mat, there’s no reason why you couldn’t apply this to challenges you may face off the mat. It might take time, but you got this. Transformation happens when you are wiling to endure intensity for the greater good.

The mat is a humble teacher
How you respond on the mat, is directly related to how you respond to life. Do you give up when things get tough or do persist mindfully in pursuit of what you want to achieve?

“Who am I?”
This is a courageous question of epic proportions. Do you dare to ask yourself? Go on give it go… Whilst yoga can’t answer that for anyone, it lays down the foundation so you can discover and appreciate what it is to be you with the space you manifest, the stillness you create and the awareness you start to develop.

What is Yoga?
hOMemade chicken soup for the soul of course…100% organic, dairy free, wheat free, gluten free with sprinkles of Spirulina…. just kidding 😉

Endless gratitude and respect for my fellow yogis, Erica Blitz who taught from her heart and Noura El – Imam who helped make this magic happen for us in Dubai.

August 5, 2016   No Comments

Lessons from the Humble Yoga Mat

 

I’ve come to accept that yoga makes me happy. I’ve had the odd session lead by someone I can only liken to a space cadet in lycra, but generally, I find it is a guaranteed source of happiness. I think yoga can teach us urbanites useful lessons to apply well after your sweat-drenched yoga matt has been stowed away.  Curious Forager attempts to simplify life and get more out of life through little lessons learned. So foragers, if interested, here are some tips from the yoga matt today!

Quit comparing your self to others!

Yoga attracts all sorts – people with varying abilities, ages, some with amazing yoga bodies gift-wrapped in Lululemon clothing, and some not so athletic. It’s easy to compare yourself to the likes of Bendy Betty who can effortlessly bend her body like a perfectly formed pretzel. It’s important to remember other people are on journeys that are different – sometimes you have no idea what their journey is about. We need to strive towards our personal best irrespective of what others appear to have achieved. Sure, we look to others to benchmark our own successes but taking a break from judging yourself and others is so very liberating. Go on indulge yourself!

Stay real, authentic

If the poses are too hard don’t push yourself to master something that you you’re not ready to. You’ll get there when you’re ready. If you’re not a fully fledged yogi – don’t punish yourself – let it go! By all means explore beyond your comfort zone but don’t do anything that doesn’t feel right. Let go of whom you think you should be, and respect who you are, embrace who you are, without judgment. It’s all too easy to take your eyes off the four corners of your matt and take a sneak peek at the yoga prowess of others but in doing so, you take your eyes off your own path, and the magic you yourself can cultivate by doing the best you can well. Don’t worry about what others think of you and your ability – what they think is really none of your business!!

Whatever you do, do it well

If you’re a beginner attempting your first inversion or a veteran who has completed their millionth Downward Facing Dog, it’s important to do it mindfully and to the best of your ability. It’s easy to threaten the integrity of a pose and become complacent because you’ve aced it a million times before. On the same token, it’s easy to do some serious damage to yourself by putting your body through the ringer if . Be true to yourself, be present, and do it well!

Be kind to yourself! 

Some days you’ll master a pose, and other days you’ll feel weak. It’s OK – your body does that sometimes. Find comfort in your efforts, breath through the discomfort and laugh at yourself once in a while. Admittedly, this is my biggest challenge as I can be my own harshest critic. We all can be, but we should moderate our expectations so goals are realistic and achievable. Thankfully, by the end of a yoga session endorphins fire up and life gets so much better and it’s easy to be kind to yourself and others too.

And finally… pain doesn’t last. If you can breathe through the discomfort of yoga – you can endure alot in life! It conditions you to be strong and believe you can withstand physical and mental challenges life sometimes throws at you.

Namaste!

January 5, 2014   No Comments

Not sleeping well? Just be grateful…

Today I saw a Gratitude Box at the Melbourne Sustainable festival.

 

There were people that queued up to type their little note, others read notes made by the grateful and walked away with a smile on their face. I marvelled at how such a simple idea connected us to a happy place within ourselves. It’s easy to get there when all you have to do is reflect on what you are grateful for.

To live life in gratitude means to appreciate your life as it is. It’s a choice, and the more you do it, the more it becomes habitual and we promote a more positive outlook. From this, happiness is cultivated.

There is much research to suggest that spending some time every day reflecting on what we are grateful for has health benefits such as better sleep. Professor Robert Emmons et al from the University of California, found the prac­tice of grat­i­tude can increase hap­pi­ness lev­els by around 25% and that cultivating gratitude correlated with longer and better quality of sleep. When your mind comes from a place of gratitude throughout the day, you’re more likely to have positive thoughts as you’re drifting off to sleep (Psychology today).

An article in the Guardian reported Emmons describing gratitude as a buffer against stress, “Grateful people are less likely to experience envy, anger, resentment, regret and other unpleasant states that produce stress.”

You can actively take control of your own happiness whatever situation you find yourself in with a bit of practice.

February 19, 2012   No Comments

You’re on ‘Timeout’! Do we know how to be alone anymore?

Every life Guru will tell you that you should spend time by yourself. Sometimes the thought of spending time alone filled me with dread. Me and my thoughts need timeout from each other at the best of times. What if I get lonely? Who will I tell if I’ve made my best batch of brownies to date? Facebook? Facebook can’t enjoy brownies.

How many people are actually comfortable being alone? If you say you are, can you claim to really have been alone? Many of us spend most of our waking moments at work interacting with people. Then when you go home, the interaction doesn’t stop. It’s not long before you’re checking your emails or engaging in social media. Most of us live in a space of constant connectedness. Which begs the question- do a lot of us really know how to be alone?

Recently, I made a point of being reclusive for a while after a busy and challenging start to the year. I allowed myself to observe my own thoughts. My mind wandered into some pretty dark places, and though uncomfortable at times, I isolated areas of my life that need attention. I separated my understanding of loneliness and being alone.

Most of us are social beings that thrive on feeling we are part of a societal network. We need to reach out. It’s easy to mute thoughts and feelings with external distractions. We’re often surrounded by social norms, the latest fad, and opinions of others that it’s sometimes hard to isolate your own thoughts and beliefs. Our concept of ‘self’ becomes diluted. However, being mindful of your internal monologue can be quite insightful.

Take a long walk or take a drive. Spending quality time alone provides you with a great opportunity to listen to your inner wisdom and build trust in your own judgment. Taking a step away from the thoughts of others enhances self-reliance, which can be an empowering state of being. Of course, most of us are happiest when surrounded by those we love, but happiness elevated from yourself is the kind that will serve you well in the long term.

February 4, 2012   1 Comment

Timing is everything: Making a good experience better and enduring the bad.

Knowing how long an event or situation is likely to last can intensify the feelings associated with it, according to recent research1 from the University of Toronto.

This is an incredibly powerful tool to use if you’re about to do something you love. You can love it even more. By putting a time limit on a pleasurable experience in place of endless hedonism you can intensify happiness. Contrast a brief two-week stint abroad to an open ended travelling escapade. Knowing that you have a limited time somewhere increases your appreciation of it as you strive to feel, see and eat as much as you can in a short space of time.

This can be equally so for an experience you may be dreading. Knowing how long you’re going to have to sit through a meeting you’re not looking forward to at work, or knowing how long you have to babysit Satan over the weekend will have you clock watching across the set period of time. However, not knowing how long a bad experience is likely to last throws hope into the mix and softens the blow of the negative experience. Imagine being held in an elevator. You’ll probably get more annoyed if you knew you would be required to wait an hour over not knowing when you’ll be released!

Think of this when you’re waiting to see the doctor or waiting for an interview or an overdue baby to arrive. Ignorance can indeed be bliss. You may feel that things are out of your control but you could feel twice as bad if you’re counting down the time.

We can apply the positive aspects of this little insight in the way we pave our lives. If we realize our own impermanence and relatively short time here, we may add some colour to dull periods in life through feeling more intensely. Likewise, when life throws us a curve ball, not knowing how long a bad situation can last may in fact help us endure it.

1)      Zhao, Min and Tsai, Claire (2011), “The Effects of Duration Knowledge on Forecasted Versus Actual Affective Experiences,” Journal Of Consumer Research Vol. 32

 

October 8, 2011   2 Comments

Spend some time with your younger self. You might learn something!

In a moment of nostalgia have you ever wanted to turn back the clock and momentarily step into the shoes of your younger self? Serendipitously, I got to do just that.

I was charged with the task of sorting through my childhood memorabilia in my family home. In amongst the piles of diaries, poems and photos I found a rather intriguing letter.  A letter from my eighteen year old self to my future self. The letter recounted the highs and lows of my eighteenth year and goals for the future.

I was intrigued to discover how I have changed but more interestingly, parts of me that remained the same. Many psychologists believe there are 5 personality traits which can change throughout life stages. These universal traits are conscientiousness, neuroticism, agreeableness, openness and extroversion.  Research conducted by Sanjay Srivastava at Stanford University supported this idea of personality changing and found that conscientiousness increases in your twenties and agreeableness increases in your thirties. There was a noted decrease in neuroticism amongst women implying females worry less as they get older. Thankfully, in stark contrast to the reckless critter I appeared to be at eighteen, I can see that I have become more conscientious in the way I apply myself in work and play. So far in my timeline, the other traits seem stable. I’m still a gregarious worrywart that is open to experiencing and learning new things as I’ve always been.

It’s perfectly plausible that our traits can change with life stages. After all, we need to constantly adapt to new environments. Our lives are not static. Sometimes you have to change to fit in, or even re-wire your attitude and belief systems to cope with life’s changes. The brain’s neuroplasticity makes us capable of change and this adaptability could be highly advantageous in surviving a changing world.

Socrates advocated self-knowledge being the key to happiness. Observing traits which haven’t changed can increase your self-awareness by reinforcing what you already know about yourself. Through reading the letter, I discovered that my goals as a teen is consistent with my current aspirations. My mission back then was simple – to understand and appreciate myself. Unknowingly, the letter itself has got me closer to achieving that goal!

View old pictures, old video footage and see what’s changed and what has stayed the same. Your younger self may teach you a thing or two about yourself.

September 3, 2011   1 Comment

Surviving Career Purgatory

I have spoken to quite a few people recently who have become restless with regards to their careers. They could probably be quite successful in any number of careers but as usual, the more options presented makes it harder to decide which road to go down. I call this ‘career purgatory’ because you feel you’re not moving forward, just held rudderless and forced to reflect on your life. I felt like this for a long time so thought I’d recount parts of my journey and share the insights I found. If it helps someone feeling a tad deficient with regards to their career, then I’m honoured to help.

I once started the ‘perfect career’ that would have see me inspired and indulged by a sense of reward and fulfillment. The reality was somewhat different. That door closed and it was painful but what opened before me was something bigger – the start of an adventure that would see me develop personally, reposition the goal posts and rediscover what exactly got me excited about life again. Throughout this period of growth the destination ahead was never clear so all I allowed myself to do was to just be present and enjoy the ride until I achieved clarity.

Temping was a great ‘foster home’ whilst I was trying to figure out what to do with my life. I took this time to engage with people from various industries to see where my skills and interests could possibly be combined. I attended conferences and networking functions to learn more about the things I was interested in and found that it was the people I met and meeting people generally that ignited my excitement. I made an effort to spend time doing things that enriched me like taking short stints abroad, spending time with family, spending time alone. I reflected, wrote and discovered.

Working with my temporary team that I admired and respected and who appreciated me in return was nourishing. I was happy to wake up for work. I started taking to a colleague from another department who restructured my thoughts on the idea of a “perfect career”. In my haste to not make another career mistake I was adamant on finding the perfect job which ‘ticked all the boxes’. In defining what I wanted, I was actually limiting myself. He said I didn’t have to be a ‘360 degree person’ in my next job. A job cannot give you everything. Other areas of my life can fill in the gaps to enable total intellectual fulfillment. This was somewhat of a revelation for me. I had to understand this before I finally found my perfect career.

Changing careers can be like a re-birth in a ‘re-incarnation’ sort of way. One is re-born countless times and though the core essence of your soul remains the same, it’s in a progressive state of evolution. Sometimes your job or career may meet an untimely death. You can’t fathom why it happened, and it can be hard to adjust to the change. You’re forced to dwell in ‘career purgatory’ and reflect on everything you’ve learned thus far whilst planning your next step – your next life. There may be something much bigger that you need to achieve in this uncomfortable limbo period, or indeed on your next role. Starting over is a rare opportunity to paint a blank canvas again – the way you want to. The picture may very well turn into a masterpiece.

A special thank you to my “temporarily temporary colleagues” who were part of this journey, you’ve become my permanent friends.

Seeing change as an opportunity is the only way to weather the change storm

July 5, 2011   1 Comment

Responsible Tourism: Volunteering – Selfless and Selfish Altruism

This article was first published on Travel Generation

Have you ever felt the need to help others less fortunate than yourself? Some people see helping as a moral duty, some do it to secure good Karma. Regardless of motivations, volunteering is a great way to put a little love back into the world. You can volunteer while travelling and engaging in communities different to your own. However, how far do these volunteer schemes really help the less fortunate and is it the volunteer that reaps the biggest reward?

After finishing university, I paid to do an all-inclusive overseas volunteering project. I took on a teaching role in a Convent/Orphanage in Kandy, Sri Lanka. In fact, I got to be a teacher, counsellor, paramedic and social worker all without the appropriate qualifications. A short TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course was my ticket to an ill-qualified adventure of a life time.

Before I knew it, I was experiencing my first taste of Sri Lanka – crowded, polluted and noisy. Left, right and centre, there were people that wanted to talk to you or want something from you. I wanted to hide, to have a few moments of privacy to rewind and calm down from my culture shock.

When we arrived at the Orphanage, which would be my home for the next month, we were greeted by a sea of very excited children, mainly girls, between three and sixteen years of age. “Aunty, Aunty!”  were the words that thundered towards us as children tried to scramble over each other to reach us.  The children held on to our legs, all wanting a safe human willing to embrace them.

Our sleeping quarters consisted of a wooden bed with a thin mattress and less than sanitary bathroom.  Creature comforts didn’t exist – in retrospect, how presumptuous of me to even expect them. After overcoming my momentary disbelief, we refused to let our spirits be dampened. With an English “stiff upper lip”, we marched on deluding ourselves with humour.

The children were intelligent and obedient. Prior to my arrival I had created a few lesson plans. I was quickly put in my place though when one of the girls in an English grammar class requested to be taught “plu-perfect tenses”. Ah ha…anyone for another round of “head shoulders, knees and toes”?  Not only were these children intelligent, they were funny. It took me a while to realise a “yes” was a pendulum like movement of the head which kind of looked like a “yes-no..or maybe”.

These children were not impoverished in their minds. They were bright children that made the most of any situation.  However, could we really teach them anything useful? Would it really make a difference to the lives of the girls? Would they ever be presented with opportunities to use what we taught them?

For a while it seemed it was me doing all the learning. There was so much to take in and adjust to – the living conditions, food, people, climate, teaching and developing relationships with the orphans and nuns. This arduous adjustment period came with the territory. However, there were deeper issues and darker forces at play within the convent and orphanage. These would provide me with my biggest lessons.

I often rebuked myself for judging Sri Lankan culture by my own Western standards. Nevertheless, I had a very real urge to judge because, I think, some things are just universally inhumane.

There were many disturbing situations that we witnessed. Children were beaten for helping us with things like washing paint off our hands? Where was the love the nun’s preached about when they locked a couple of girls away in a room for two days for buying sweets with a few rupees they found? I couldn’t look at their “anti- abuse” posters everywhere in the classrooms without disdain.  As the children started to trust us, they began to confide in us with horrific stories of the conditions there. It’s important to mention that not all of the nuns and support staff were involved in foul play.

Feeding time for us was watery noodle soup with bread and the occasional piece of fruit, while the nuns were next door eating curry followed by alcoholic chocolates. The children ate gruel. I was confused. Were we being purposely malnourished to get the “real” experience since we had paid for food and board? Were these nuns there because they honestly believed in the caring and development of the children, or were they really there because the convent was a means to escape poverty on the streets?

The day we left the orphanage we never looked back. We left the children in their world, and we went back to our safe world.  I can’t forget the tears from the girls as they clung to us asking us not to leave. At the end of the project we met with our project coordinators in Colombo and expressed our concerns. On leaving, we were told that an external counselling service would be set up to help the children.

Being young and wide-eyed about the world, I expected my altruism to move mountains.  I expected this would be an easy adventure, a good story to recount. Was I helping them, or were they helping me? They got to see life “on the outside”, a glimpse of a world of equal opportunity and fulfilled dreams. What good does this insight bring to the children? So many questions remain with me.

One philosopher and social critic, Ivan Illich, disputes the effectiveness of volunteering programs. He has described vacationing “do-gooders” as salesmen for the middle class “American Way of Life”, “seducing” the “underdeveloped” to the benefits of the world of affluence and achievement. It’s an interesting spin on how most people would view altruism.

From my experience, volunteering was mutually beneficial. Who knows what came of the counselling – if anything at all. The nuns may have seen us as silly rich kids from the West  wanting an experience- we certainly were ill qualified and unprepared to deal with what we experienced. But I do hope we served to empower the children and to show them that the violence they experienced was not right.

We didn’t tackle the causes of poverty or injustice, we just tried to improve the quality of life for the children until the next wide-eyed volunteer arrived.

Would I volunteer again? Probably, but with realistic expectations. It’s a superb way to experience a country.

Ivan Illich quote: http://www.bicyclingfish.com/illich.htm

June 19, 2011   No Comments

Procrastination: A Rite of Passage in Understanding Ourselves

I’m supposed to be planning the next step of my career. It’s time consuming, arduous and at times daunting. It’s easy to try and put this off for another evening. After all, there’s blogging to be done, and soon, I’ll be doing the washing up.  Logically, we should focus on priorities, however, procrastination ignores logic. For something so unproductive, how did we evolve to procrastinate?  I was surprised to find very little material on the evolutionary origins of procrastination so I have my own theory. After all, it must have served us well at some point to survive as a trait. I firmly believe it still does, and there’s alot we can learn about ourselves.

Procrastination doesn’t always make us feel good. The anxiety you get from it co-exists with guilt. Unfortunately, it is self perpetuating. You feel uncomfortable at the thought of completing a task, so you delay having to do it which makes you feel worse. We cushion this guilt with excuses and turn a blind eye. Anxiety can be the cause of procrastination or the result of it. By trying to understand what is making us procrastinate and restructuring our thinking to consider procrastination as in fact a positive experience, a “side effect” of mindful pausing, we can work on reducing the anxiety.

We all have different coping mechanisms to stressful or mentally taxing situations. Exam time was interesting. Trying to understand certain aspects of maths and biomechanics made me cry so I zoned out and drew, wrote poems and even learned the Romeo and Juliet’s Balcony scene in bid to distract myself from practicing long division. 15 years later, I still can recite the scene but I sure can’t do long division! Procrastination is often a coping mechanism by large. For me, it’s a mind space where my best ideas come from and my creativity blooms.

Doodles - Animals overlooking the dreamy landscape of Procrasti Nation

Animal behaviourists have documented ‘displacement behaviours’ where animals have conflicting drives like the desire to approach an object but also having a fear of that object so engage in redundant behaviours like scratching or grooming. It’s an energy outlet when you come across this conflict and cant do / wont do what you need to do. Can we not apply this to procrastination?! When we’re faced with that conflict of having to complete a task we really don’t want to do, we opt to do something else completely unrelated. We doodle, or leave our desks bathroom bound on an empty bladder rather than tackle that to-do list. Try to explain this this theory of displacement behaviour to your boss when you’re sprung surfing the net “it’s my evolutionary prerogative!”.

It’s what you choose to do when you procrastinate that can be insightful. Think about what is holding you back in completing those tasks you want to avoid. Delaying decisions you may have to make or task you have to complete may be alerting you to there being bigger things at play that you’re unable to consciously acknowledge. Procrastination can be healthy – a mental ‘time out’ and it gives us a little snippet into your ‘ideal’, our inspired space, the place we run to when things get alittle tough. It can be a fantastic way of finding out where you true desires are. On that note, blog completed, I’m going to do the washing up to ponder what exactly is stopping me in writing that cover letter for that dream job!

 

June 6, 2011   2 Comments

Decisions, Decisions. Your Second Brain and How to Move Forward by Standing Still.

I was supposed to be shopping. Two glorious hours on Oxford Street in London before I met my mother and sister for a bite to eat. Somehow I found myself steering off course on to a side street and then further and further away from the shopping precinct. It was then, by a statue of Franklin Roosevelt in Grosvenor Square, that I stopped walking. I sat down on a stone step, sipped my coffee and looked around to see so many solitary people looking glazed into space. What were they thinking? Soon I became one of them. I fell prey to a mind that needs no encouragement to go to a place where it can chase it’s own tail. Then finally it takes one big chomp…..

We strive forwards. We migrate that way to achieve a goal or dream. Sometimes we take a step back to reflect and assess our current standing. A pulse check. Sometimes we need to tip toe backwards simply to learn the basics to conquer the bigger goals. A step back in order to go forward. More often than not, this is just a temporary step back.

What happens when your feet are stuck? You can’t move forwards, nor backwards, because you don’t know where you want to go. Your vision in the distance front and back is hazy. And what if your feet are stuck in different places – you have one foot and half of your heart in one place then your other foot and the other half of your aortic chamber in another? You’re forced to stop walking.

The safest thing to do is to stand still. This is not a bad thing.

I recently enjoyed morning tea with a truly fascinating family friend Simon. He teaches people to manipulate space and time in light of their personal and corporate decision making. By slowing down the time part and holding off from making a decision you actually tap into a kind of “flow” where you allow events to unfold naturally and answers to emerge when you’re ready to make the right decision. Sometimes it’s not the right time to make a decision and other things need to happen for you to be better placed to decide.

A natural concern to this school of thought is that whilst waiting, you potentially let opportunities slip past you. This is when intuition and gut feel must guide you. The more you ‘listen’ to your gut, the more refined your senses become. After all, modern science is comfortable with the concept that we have a second brain in our gut.  Your “gut brain” contains neurons and neurotransmitters just like those found in your skull brain. Just like your primary brain, your “gut brain” is also able to learn, remember, and produce emotion-based feelings.

So listen to your gut and attempt to de-clutter your mind of thoughts that hold you back which scream louder than the voice in your gut. Stop ‘moving’ every so often and let go of baggage that no longer serves you as this confounds your present judgement.  Sit in the eye of the storm, be still, and allow the flow to take you where ever you need to go.  Remember that blissful moment when the heavy rain finally stops and everything is clear, fresh and still. It’s in this stillness where you will find clarity. All your answers are there within you, they just surface at the right time, when you’re ready.

And then, you can take that step forward. Thanks Mr Roosevelt ol’ chap for pointing me in the right direction!

 

 

May 7, 2011   1 Comment

Dream on. Sure, if I may.

Jiminy Cricket once said, “If you don’t have a dream, how can you have a dream come true?”.  Wise words from a talking cricket. I’m a dreamer. There, I said it. In a society which admires focused go getters and it’s the survival of the fittest, I have always tried to snap out of my dreamy moments and appear on the ball, pragmatic and realistic. I would certainly not own up to be a dreamer…until now, when a dream came true!

This little story is written whilst i quietly smile inside. It’s dedicated to my friend Annette who surprised me with how well she knows me and made a huge difference to my life because of it.

My school reports always said how i need to concentrate more. I was the child who would stare outside the classroom window and live little adventures in my head and then suddenly class would be over. I wasn’t like this with all subjects…just those that didn’t grip me. My adventures were far too exciting.

I find this still happens. I can’t help it. I get lost, and i enjoy it, flitting between the realms of dream world and reality. I never thought that this trait would ever serve me well.

Recently, I had a series of job interviews for a company I really wanted to work for. They asked for references. My friend, a successful professional who really lives from her heart agreed to be a personal referee for me. When asked about my bad traits, my friend reluctantly said that I was a dreamer. In hindsight that’s a pretty kind response but when she told me, I panicked. I thought, what employer would hire someone who didn’t appear strongly focused.

As one awaits their fate on “Who wants to be a millionaire” i stopped breathing for a few moments to listen to my friend relay back to me the employer’s reaction.  My future boss then said that’s the sort of person they are looking for. Jackpot. I guess the more i develop in my new role the more conceptual and creative I’ll need to be. I can do conceptual and creative. That’s where my mind naturally goes!

I’m not devoid of reality. I just have a vivid imagination that let’s me push the boundaries in trying to understand the world as i know it. I like to think, that as spices and herbs do wonders to an otherwise bland dish, my imagination adds more colour to my life. By no means my life is bland- my dreaminess puts a stop to that! It allows me to challenge the status quo and to examine a life outside the box.

For the first time, I’m happy being a dreamer. It’s my creative aid.

July 3, 2010   1 Comment

Divine Intervention (Almost!)

We’ve always been taught never to jump into a stranger’s car from an early age. So why do we choose to bend the rules when we hit adulthood? Sometimes we feel we know alot more than we did in our younger years. Sometimes we take risks and blindly hope for the best. Sometimes instinct kicks in and tells you you’re going to be fine and you have to trust people.

I’m a traveller at heart and I must admit that sometimes my naivety has lead me to some brilliant adventures that I would never have embarked on if I had the sensible cautious gene present itself more often. I’m sure my mother would shudder at my stupidity at times.

A few weeks ago I was running for a tram as I was running abit late for an appointment. I got to the tram, and the doors were closed. It waited there for a few seconds the driver just looked at me and took off. That’s never happened before. Clearly peeved at the driver, I dramatically park myself on the tram stop bench to wait for the next tram. It was then when a woman in her late 50s swerves into the lane closest to me and yells “Jump in!” Still feeling abit highly strung from the earlier situation I politely decline. Then she swung open the passenger door and yelled “Jump in, we’ll catch the tram!”. Throwing caution to the wind I thought what the hell and my whole being bounced with excitement as I ran and threw myself into the passenger seat as the traffic lights turned green.

I checked the backseat (I didnt want any nasty surprises once the doors were closed) and sat there like a stunned mullet unable to articulate my surprise.  The lady in the car tore down Clarendon Street in South Melbourne like a bat out of hell and as promised stopped at the next tram stop adjacent to the waiting tram. Whether I made it onto the tram at that point was touch and go. She told me not to bother closing the car door – just to run. So I did just that. After a much too brief “Thank you”, I jumped on the tram just before the doors closed behind me and I collasped in a heap onto a seat donning a cheshire cat grin. I made my appointment with 5 minutes to spare. Gold.

They say youth is wasted on the young. Sometimes behaviour characterised by reckless abandon present in youths comes out in the old but with beautiful speckles of confidence and grace. It’s something that’s mastered after years of making those life mistakes when you take those uncalculated risks. I guess when you’re older the risk taking doesn’t stop – just your “risk calculator” takes a higher threshold and evolves along with your perception governed by years and years of mistakes.  I like to call them lessons.

If by any chance the lady in the red car who drives through South Melbourne reads this, I’d like to say a big Thank You for going above and beyond in taking me to my tram. It’s special people like you who make humanity beautiful. It’s the small things that make a big difference.

March 20, 2010   2 Comments

When foraging and being curious goes wrong

Some things found are meant to be left alone.  Uninterrupted and unexplored. This is quite the challenge for a curious forager. I’d like to share a story about a recent adventure involving a bin, a Catherine Cookson (Tilly Trotter) book and alcohol.

It was Saturday night. We just finished a boozy meal at Verge and took a stroll down Sniders Lane in Melbourne. In a socially confused state I approach a bin with a 1980’s style hard back book on it. How could someone throw a book away? Especially one that looked so retro? In a moment of stupor, I took the book and then continued on with our journey. At the time I was chuffed at my find.

The morning after came. Noise, light, smells were magnified and I was hurting . Lying next me was a book. I remembered – my objet d’art, my curious find! On closer inspection the booked  looked abit thicker than I remembered it to be. Wedged inside the book were all sorts of papers and items. Someone else’s life. A cigarette, a bus time table, to-do list, and all sorts of pamphlets in different translations relating to melanoma and mental illness.  My peripheral vision homed in on the book.  The world stopped. My heart skipped a beat. This book was not intended to be thrown away. Perhaps just placed on top of a bin with the intention of being collected again by the owner after a night out. What did I do?

Sunday was spent plotting how I could get the book back to it’s owner. There was someone’s life in that book so surely I could get a lead or two. You’d think.

Monday morning came. I called the number of the library that the book belonged to. It was a disowned book. One of the health related pamphlets had ticks and circled pieces of info.  It was in Serbian.  I took it to my Serbian colleague for a translating session but all it a general pamphlet rather than something indicating a workshop or appointment. I googled the telephone number and it was a number for the hospital. What on earth would I say to the person on the other end of that number? “Hi I have a book that may belong to a future patient of yours…” I think not.

That would have been good penance for me. I decided the owner of the book was a ‘he’.   There was a to-do list and the writing was spidery and masculine. My initial speculations were challenged when I saw the song title “I knew I loved you before I met you” by Savage Garden.  Maybe he was proposing soon! I tried to profile ‘him’. Going by his to-do list he was sporty as he had to move his medals and was moving somewhere. From the bush perhaps as the bus time table was regional. There was a parking ticket for the South Yarra region so he drives. There was an entertainment section torn out of a newspaper for the week. Maybe I should have attended all the functions in hope to finding Mr Tilly Trotter. This would have been penance. I decided that even if we found ourselves in the same function, short of taking to a megaphone and asking if the book belonged to someone my attempt would have been futile. I even entertained the thought of asking a radio station to help me find him.

A point on his to-do list directed my search to a real estate agent. There was a house number and first letter of the street and the name of a property developer which was also a real estate company. I was nervous in calling this company in fear of sounding like a lunatic. Oh what the hell. Mr Trotter needs his book back. The agent was kind. She said that she will contact all of the tenants in that block that the to-do list referred to. She sent a courier to collect it the next day at 10am.

I wrote a note of apology to insert into the book. Three times.  I was in the middle of writing my forth when the courier arrived.  Early. I failed to insert the note.

In true curious forager style I would like to know whether the kind agent managed to find the owner.  I must get around in doing that. But if I’ve learned something it’s that some things are best left alone. If Mr Tilly Trotter you happen to read this, please accept my apologies..I’m sorry.

March 15, 2010   No Comments

Welcome

Welcome to The Curious Forager. We all have an inquisitive and almost voyeuristic side to us. Some like to share the spoils of their findings and display the contents of their Pandora’s Box minds to the world, divulging all even if the world is not ready for it. Others prefer to remain hidden, unearthed and confine their stories to the depths of their grey matter to fester. Sharing is caring and I care a lot. Sharing information also helps foster evolution. And I’d like to do my bit. The curious forager is a collection of stories and thoughts that energetically bounce around my head at 3am. Above all, it’s a tale of finding things…or things finding me. I cordially invite you to join me on a journey to a realm of randomness in pursuit of personal evolution.

February 21, 2010   No Comments