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Category: Lessons from life

The power of doing what lights you up

What lights you up? What makes you come alive?

In many ways that is the starting point to finding your purpose. Living your passion.

I see so many people going through life with a glazed over expression just hoping to get through the day.

A day that feels like Ground Hog day.

Same old same old.

Go home, wake up and do it again.

What makes it different?

Finding out what lights you up.

You might be doing the same thing day in and day out but if it is what makes you come alive (or at least some of the activities you do fit that criteria) then the glazed over expression turns to animation and anticipation.

I created this 3 minute video on The power of doing what lights you up.

You’ll hear a lot more from me on this topic as I focus on this to help people get off the treadmill.

Life isn’t a dress rehearsal, let’s make every day a centre stage performance instead of being a stage hand in your own life.

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Look at what we have right now

Last week an uneventful drive home morphed into an outside art gallery as I approached the roundabout ten minutes away from my house.

The sky was ablaze with the most glorious rainbow. Full colour, thick lines and the whole arch in view.

It was one of the best rainbows I’d ever seen.

Five minutes had passed and traffic had not moved an inch.  Out of  boredom more than design, I took a quick smartphone shot of the rainbow through my windscreen right before we started to move. Since the smartphone photo (above) captured it fairly well, I could not wait to get home to see what my DSLR would do with this spendid masterpiece of nature.

As I approached my street, the rainbow that so captured my attention had been replaced with dark clouds and pouring rain.

If I had not snapped that smartphone photo and waited for the perfect shot from the professional camera, I would have totally missed capturing the moment.

How often do we do that in life?

  • Not be fully in the present.
  • Not make the very most of what is in front of us.
  • Not make the most of what we have to work with at the moment-even though we know bigger and better things will be at our disposal soon.
  • Not take note of a person around us who could use a smile or an encouraging word to make their day.

I’ve heard mindfulness experts explain how they tell people to stop and be aware of everything in a room, bus, street or wherever they are. Notice the smells. Pay attention to the colours, the textures, the conversations. Be fully present in everything you do, say and listen to.

Seize the moment and make the most of it. Aim for the best but always do the very best with what you have at the moment.

What has your experience been?

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Honoring my mother

For many of us, our Moms are not here any longer. My mother passed away 19 years ago and I still miss her and am so grateful for all that she taught me, let me do and fully support all I did.

I wrote this message to give at her celebration of life in 1998. I was not able to be there but someone did read it at the service.

I want to write it here as a continued thank you and honor of my Mom who had many challenges but never complained and was always so positive even in the midst of a terrible long term illness.

And I send my very best wishes to others of you who no longer have your Mom with you.

Dear Mom

At last you are at peace. You suffered greatly, but never complained. You seemed to accept and rise to whatever came your way. Not just in the horrible illness you endure but in many situations throughout your life.

As a mother, you made the ultimate sacrifice: you freely encouraged my sister and I to pursue the paths that we felt were right for us even though it meant that you had no children or granchildren living near you and an oldest daughter half way around the world.

You always told us what mattered most to you was that we were happy. No guilt, no pressure, no criticism. Just ongoing acceptance and support of whatever we chose, even if it would not have been your first choice for us. Even in the thick of your long term serious illness (which later made you not able to talk clearly) and widowhood, phone calls from you would always focus on how our family was doing. Never a complaint about your declining health, loneliness and isolation-we actually had to push pretty hard to get you to talk about it at all! That type of selfless love is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give their child. Especially when it is given in a time of need as great as the one you were going through.

So many things I did with my daughters while they were growing up are because of what you taught me through word and example in my ‘growing up years’. Table manners, aversion to gossip, looking for the good in others and thousands of other things remind me of childhood lessons you taught me for which I am grateful.

Significant and trivial memories have flooded my mind over the past week. The silly things like calling you from various parts of the world asking if you thought a roast that was a week old was still good or how should I cook it? Or more serious things like supporting me as a 12 year old having an idea of inventing a board game by helping me write the letter to Parker Brothers about it it, never once suggesting it was unrealistic. The strong message that and other situations gave me was: you can do anything you want to if you believe in yourself and put some effort into it.

What a difference that has made in my life

I cherish the fact that you came to Australia for the birth of my two daughters and I will never forget the sacrifice and courage that it took for you to fly to Australia from the US alone and coming to see us a few years later in spite of your ill health and bad days. All of those memories are precious to me and inspire me to live a life worthy of my daughters being willing (as you did) to move well out of my comfort zone to support them if necessary.

Of course some of my most treasured memories will always be in July (1998) spending the last few weeks of your life with you when I went back to the US. In the midst of being stripped of all but your ability to move, you still were able to crack a smile at my silly antics and teasing.

You participated in life with every ounce of energy and capability you had, right up til the end. You left this earth in triumph. Life tried to rob you of everything but you held strongly to the two things it could not take unless you surrendered them: dignity and faith.

Your dignity came not from your physical being, but from your attitude and response to life. A fact that I observed as a child, a teen, as a young adult, and a middle aged woman.

Petty people, caustic relatives, a daughter moving half way around the world, the worst curse of ill health you could imagine and widowhood were never able to reduce you to bitterness, retaliation or self pity. You rose above all of them year after year with grace and dignity; not ever surrendering to their relentless pursuit of tearing you down. Even when you could not speak, write, or eat normally, the message that your life and attitude communicated was louder than any words could have.

Your body gave up, but your spirit, positive determination and faith to go on were as strong as ever right to the end.

Mom I will miss you so much. Word can not express my gratitude for the tapestry of treasured memories, lessons, challenges and inspirations that will be reflected in my life because of you.

All my love

Linda

On March 27, 2015 (the day of Mom’s birthday) I held a book launch at our house for the book I just published. I know she would have loved the book.

Mom  I think of you at least 3 or 4 times a week still 19 years later and still miss you and am so grateful for your wisdom and positive spirit.

 

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There is always hope-sometimes you just have to look harder for it

 

Photo credit-iStock
Photo credit-iStock by og-vision

A plane goes down.

A war escalates.

Floods or fires destroy whole communities.

Even if -like me- you aren’t an avid consumer of the news on commercial TV, most likely images, headlines and conversations about these events will cross your path somehow and some way. I hardly watched any of the news reports about the recent MH17 disaster and still know more details than one would expect.

I know in my heart of hearts what we focus our thoughts, beliefs and emotions on expands and comes back to us individually and collectively.

But what does the mean for how I respond to situations like the recent tragedies with both Malaysian Airlines flights?

  • How do I respond to this with a sense of hope without seeming callous or insensitive?
  • How do I show compassion for those who lost their lives and those who are left behind without becoming so consumed with it that I miss the precious passing moments with my beloved family and amazing group of friends and fellow entrepreneurs?
  • How do I  focus my thoughts to expand the positive energy rather than expand and attract more fear, anger and grief?

As I wrestled with these important questions I was reminded of three positive steps to take while keeping those touched by tragedies in our hearts.

Look for the helpers

Dr Fred Rogers who had a children’s show called Mr Roger’s neighborhood said:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.  Just on the sidelines. ‘ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers–so many caring people in this world.” (From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Locations 645-647).

If you look for the helpers (journalists reporting sensitively, prayer vigils by strangers for strangers, rescuers and many more) you will find hope. As you increase your thoughts of hope you find more and more examples of hope in the midst of tragedy and  reminders of all the good that there is in the world.

 

 Pay attention to and express gratitude for the ordinary things of life.

When my girls were  growing up, I’d often say:

‘Appreciate the everyday things because life as we know it can change in an instant’.

In 2011 after the floods in Queensland and the earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand,  I wrote this reflection:

Tonight as I sat at Moseely Square (in Glenelg, South Australia), looking across to CIBO, McDonalds and the Dublin Pub, I marvelled at how our routines and lives were still intact. I tried to imagine what it would be like if Glenelg and so many of our neighbourhoods had been decimated by flood or earthquake. And as we yearned to return to normal, we’d find ‘normal’ had been totally wiped out and we were just left with rubble, dirt and many lost friends, family and colleagues. I have a renewed sense of appreciation for the fact that I still have access to my routine, my neighbourhood, friends and ‘life as I know it’. Somehow traffic, people who undermine me, and work pressure seem less bothersome and more cause for giving thanks.

Gratitude has been proven to enhance our immune system, push us up the emotional scale to positive emotions, relieve some forms of depression and expands to attract to us more things to be grateful for. Gratitude breeds hope.

 

Balance grief and empathy with presence

As a mother of two daughters who often travel internationally I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like for those parents who said ‘Good bye, have a great trip,’ to their young adults on their way to adventure-to find hours later their cherished children would never share another birthday, phone call or conversation with them.

As a person who prays, I pray for the families-parents who’ve lost children, children who’ve lost parents and grandparents, aunties, uncles and treasured friends who will never return.

That others come into their lives to help them navigate this awful time and situations that bring rays of light into their darkened lives. worry

Pre-occupation with worry and grief  for those families is no help to them at all. It won’t bring back their loved ones either.

Worrying about the next international flights my daughters will take will only send out energy of fear that will return to me more things to be fearful about.

For me this was a good reminder to be fully present with all of the people, situations (including work) and abundance in my life.

Appreciate them.

Put the phone away when I’m talking to them.

Really listen.

Do what I can to love, support and encourage them.

Put my energy in to love and gratitude instead of (usually unfounded) fear.

Plan like you have 100 years left, live like you have a day left.

As Bon Jovi says ‘I want to LIVE while I’m alive’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What this muffin taught me about the Universe’s lessons

As I stepped on the scales, I knew the news would not be good.

And I was right. I weighed the heaviest I’ve ever been.

YIKES!

And I did something different that day.

Instead of panic mode, crash diet, or immersion into (what would surely be short lived) fitness frenzy, I decided to visualise my success at weight loss.

Picture how it would feel.

Relief.

Excitement.

Finally able to wear the styles that are ‘me’.

Awesome lightness carrying around 25kg less. Picture the clothes I’d be able to wear.

And I would do this by making wise choices as I held the vision in my mind. The first choice was no sugar, no flour, basically no sweets for at least two weeks. Then a once a week indulgence.

As I drove  to meet  a friend at a coffee shop, I was filled with resolve and excitement about my new approach.

Got there.

Ordered.

My friend ordered a muffin and I just ordered a drink.

The owner brought my friend’s order first and the muffin looked great, but I kept my goal in mind.muffin2.jpg

The owner brought my coffee and…… a muffin!

Yes, the one in the photo!

When I said I had not ordered it, he told me it had already been out in the air, so I could have it for no charge.

Universe what are you doing? I passed the test of not ordering a muffin and here you bring one to me for free!

I did not eat the muffin and took it home, put it in the fridge and did not touch it.

What is my conclusion? I think when we make a resolution to change something we are often sent tests that tempt us to return to the comfort of previous patterns. They are sent to strengthen us and help us prove to ourselves that we are on our way to change as we face the tests and don’t go back to our old ways.

Since the muffin incident, I’ve had days where I’ve veered off the track of my weight loss program.  Yet my focus continues to be on the feeling of achieving the goal and celebrating my progress and successes rather than letting my setbacks pull me back to my old patterns permanently. And with my new approach, I’m making much better progress than I have in the past.

When you make a resolution and are faced with a temptation see it as an opportunity to prove to yourself you are moving forward.

It won’t be a perfect journey. When you stumble, don’t dwell on that. Celebrate all the times you moved forward (even with baby steps) and then keep stepping forward.

Keep at it and you’ll find you’ll create new neural pathways that will help your good choice to be more and more of a natural reflex.

The Universe is on your side. Backing you up. Ready to deliver your best life to you. Trust it. Thank it. And watch your life slowly transform.

What tests have you faced and passed?

 

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Suck the marrow out of every moment

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Last week an uneventful drive home morphed into an outside art gallery as I approached the roundabout ten minutes away from my house.

The sky was ablaze with the most glorious rainbow. Full colour, thick lines and the whole arch in view.

It was one of the best rainbows I’d ever seen.

As I sat in traffic, I pulled out my smartphone to take a photo.

No, I’ll wait til I get home and take the shot with my Canon DSLR to get the most amazing shot of this palette of colour filling the sky. I couldn’t wait. I put the phone back on the seat.

Five minutes had passed and traffic had not moved an inch.  Out of  boredom more than design, I took a quick smartphone shot of the rainbow through my windscreen right before we started to move. Since the smartphone photo (above) captured it fairly well, I could not wait to get home to see what my DSLR would do with this spendid masterpiece of nature.

As I approached my street, the rainbow that so captured my attention had been replaced with dark clouds and pouring rain.

If I had not snapped that smartphone photo and waited for the perfect shot from the professional camera, I would have totally missed capturing the moment.

How often do we do that in life?

  • Not be fully in the present.
  • Not make the very most of what is in front of us.
  • Not make the most of what we have to work with at the moment-even though we know bigger and better things will be at our disposal soon.
  • Not take note of a person around us who could use a smile or an encouraging word to make their day.

I’ve heard mindfulness experts explain how they tell people to stop and be aware of everything in a room, bus, street or wherever they are. Notice the smells. Pay attention to the colours, the textures, the conversations. Be fully present in everything you do, say and listen to.

From now on, I will certainly make the most of the tools and opportunities I have at the moment-just like my smartphone-making the most of them until I have access to the ‘bigger and better’ things – like my Canon.

Seize the moment and make the most of it. Aim for the best but always do the very best with what you have at the moment.

What has your experience been?

 

 

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