This report is the equivalent of 7 pages of a word document. Not tooooo bad!!!
Make yourself a coffee or tea…., grab some chocolate (Lindt dark Chilli is the best!!)…and enjoy.
This report is the equivalent of 7 pages of a word document. Not tooooo bad!!!
Make yourself a coffee or tea…., grab some chocolate (Lindt dark Chilli is the best!!)…and enjoy.
I love this time of year. I love that in my world it is HOT, that swimming in the ocean after a run is like drinking water from a well in the dessert, that people get together and celebrate more. Especially I like the quiet days after Christmas when I get to draw breath and review the year.
From September 2008 and through the early part of 2009 I went through my own very deep dark night, triggered by a very sudden loss in income (I had taken my eye off the ball). Even though at the time it was extremely difficult, a part of my awareness also realised that there was great beauty within the experience, and that I was being reborn, in some way, to a stronger me.
For many years now I have had one enduring prayer. “Please use me as you see fit.” Behind this prayer is the fervent wish to be used to the fullest of my capacity to support the highest good. Of course when you live on the edge of the world of service to the mystical unfolding, the tricky bit is that you really don’t know what being used to your fullest capacity is. Other than when you do what you do, your heart sings in tune and people really like what you do and it seems to help and certainly does no harm.
Having spent years really seeking for my vocation to finally get that it is not a destination but is forever unfolding – in other words my true work has been my true work every day, even back in the days at University when I waited tables – and that every step has been significant in bringing me here to who I am now and what I have to contribute, the prayer of being used as you see fit has been in action every day. It is only the part of me that wants the action of the day to look and feel different than what it is that has been the issue. Each day I have learned to be present and grateful to the action of the day…in what ever form that is…rather than to want it to be different.
Yet at the same time, I can see a thread that runs through everything I have done.
The Way It Is
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
William Stafford ~
So we approach the end of 2009, and I look back at the last 12 months. Given that so much of my work is the inner work I do on self, each year I get to this place and gasp at how far I have come, and yet each year I reach this place and feel like I have reached a good place, where I “Know” so much. And there in lies the beauty. Life is a constant unfolding, and while I have travelled far, there is far to go. And I am always amazed at how far I have come. It is a joy, this journey of life…
2009, it started for me requiring to go deep inside to explore my questions of value…what is value?..who says this is valuable?…why?…what do I feel/think/believe is valuable?…what does money mean?…how to I daily stay connected to source?..Especially how do I stay connected to source when I have fear in my heart and my tendency is to contract and withdraw?
This has been my enquiry for 2009. As I wrote early in the year, in the article on building an emergency tool kit, one of the daily, moment to moment practices I have been focused on is ensuring I have an open heart, and that I resist the urge to contract and shut down when fear looms. Even now, when things on the “outside”, my bank account for example, are in better shape, I find myself contracting from the age old in-built genetically and psychically programmed scarcity principle. That there is not enough. That the flow has stopped.
So this work goes on…daily, opening my heart, feeling my light shine, sending my light out, knowing that when I do I stay connected. And that when we are connected the flow is ever present. It is only when I contract, when my heart closes, that I become disconnected. The practice for me is giving, giving, giving, my light, my open heart, my energy, my love. Because I know without a shadow of doubt that when I do this, all will be well, in whatever form that is.
This has been my biggest lesson for 2009, and it continues to be learnt and applied…daily..for the pull of self contraction, and scarcity thinking are so strong, and so inbuilt into us that vigilance is necessary.
During 2009, as I allowed my heart to open more, inspiring and wonderful events occurred. Always for me the precious gifts of life are our relationships and shared moments.
Incredible relationships were forged in 2009.
My relationship with Laurent Labourmene is pivotal to 2009. We have spent hours on skype, working with each other through the storms, moving from storms to seas of possibility, hanging out in Brazil, meeting in Melbourne to share pizza with his partner, co-creating with others “The Constellation”, and finally, working together on Indigenous Prosperity in Adelaide. I am in so much gratitude for all of our time and experiences together, and for the rich future that is unfolding as 1 plus 1 equals 10000. (or more). Laurent is a friend, a buddy, a co-contributer to my work and I am a better person for knowing him.
Precessionally, from my relationship with Laurent, has come the relationships with Richard David Hammes, Lindley Edwards, Dave Martin, Cynthia McEwan. While these friendships are new, I feel I have known these people all of my life, and forever before that.
I have loved the conversations with Dave covering the worlds money systems, to the mystical and otherwordly, to “all in consequence.” Each conversation stretches me, and simultaneously, leaves me rested in a complete and whole space.
The many conversation with the gentle and wise spirit Cynthia, and her partner John. I feel so much richer with each interaction.
In Brazil I met many others who work so generously and with so much love for the betterment of our world. Morel Forman, Peter Merry, Lawrence Bloom, the incredible elder women, Jean Houston and Nancy Roof. I stepped into the heart of Rio de Janeiro, into the slums, with the elegant Maria …and the exquisite beauty, Giselle.
This year I have continued to work with extraordinary people. People who show up each day and do work that they love. Someone asked me recently who I like to work with and I said I love working with anyone who wants to do the work. I don’t mind if they are CEO’s or the people at the counter. I have worked with teams of people who have inspired me with their willingness to get off their bag of tricks and roll up their sleeves and do the work that needs to be done right before them. I find myself doing more group coaching, which I adore, and integral leadership development, with leaders who are up for the biggest loudest truth they know.
I lived for three months in a house with just myself and my dog for the first time in 18 years, as my daughter Natalie travelled Europe. My mobile phone was my sleeping partner, as I often got the text in the night, announcing a new adventure, another great experience, or the joys of sleeping on the streets, or in train stations. There was the occasional “Help” text.
I ran another Gold Coast marathon and half of my third “Kokoda Challenge.” I learned newly about my body, and what it does under stress. I have stayed in great shape all year, with not one shadow of illness, not even a sniffle. I put this down to lots of good sleep, healthy food, fabulous friends, and refusing to let things get to me..to keep that heart open and trusting that all is well.
I forged new friendships in my local community, with my Saturday running girls. Toni and Fiona and Alicia and Donna (and Jess, now based in Sydney). It has been so great to have such lovely people in my life – the girlfriends who all stay very fit, and yet love to enjoy life… Many Saturday mornings have been spent at the coffee shop at the beach, laughing so much passers by have said we shouldn’t be having so much fun so early in the day.
I have built a web site, Positive Deviant, and learned a lot about the interior of the web. It is of course such a huge field, so my knowledge is still quite novice, but certainly I have loved the learning. Thank you to SBI. You are an extraordinary company who genuinely gives far far more than I pay for, and does so with such high integrity every single step of the way. I have loved the experience.
I have found the beautiful piano music of Michael Jones. I listen to him play most every day. He is playing now.
When my daughter returned from her travels we hung out together, our relationship more mature, and even more loving, and every night for months, we would read a chapter from the Twilight saga together. Treasured moments.
As the year comes to a close I feel so incredibly grateful for it all. The hard start took me deep inside to explore the core of my values, I had to also sharpen some of my practices around the management of money, learn to do without, to not spend anything, loving the lightness and freedom of this.
I feel very certain that the new year, and my 50th year, will be quite an exception. What I have been building for years, with love and commitment, and with some seriously skinned knees along the way, is about to transform to a bounty that will see me used so much more than I have felt to this point. It is all so very perfect, and I am very blessed and grateful.
Thank you to you, the readers of this blog. While I do not know many of you, I am grateful for you making precious time to spend with me in this way. I do love connecting with you and hearing if my writing is on track…so please drop me a note…
I wish you grace and blessings as we move into the new decade.
What is my definition of success?
As August 2009 comes to a close I sit here on a beautiful Friday afternoon on the Gold Coast in Queensland Australia and feel so blessed.
In the background I have the beautiful piano music of Michael Jones playing. The cool breeze is coming through the wide open doors that open onto my courtyard. There are birds calling in the background and the sun is shining in a blue cloudless sky. I have spent the morning working with some of my incredible clients and then engaged in a phone conversation that left every part of my physical and metaphysical form singing with the sheer joy and beauty of it.
My life has come so far, and I look back at all of the peaks and valleys and the journey to here with such awe and gratitude. This week alone has been one of such immensity and possibility it simply must go down in my life as resonating with infinite success.
In my early 20’s I had a burn for success. I was ambitious, I wanted to be the King of the World. (Queen of the World just doesn’t have the same ring to it!) The Universe had other plans. I see the perfection in everything that has unfolded. The relationships that came and went, and the pain and the joy they brought with them, the synchronous events that took me from one path to another, unexpectedly falling pregnant…the joys and disappointments, the places traveled…
While I truly get that everything matters, no event is small, or insignificant, there are events that seem to have such importance, where the color of the thread that has weaved the tapestry of my life has added a defining hue.
The move from Architecture school to Chiropractic college was one such event. While my work as a Chiropractor was limited in time, the study of the human body, of health and disease, has been a corner stone of my life. At the same time, the two disciplines are both a study of structure and form, a connection clear to me, but elusive to most. Structure and form and the understanding of the space between has been a constant on my path. Understanding energy, flow, systems, form…
Working at Camp Eden, an alternate Health retreat, for a year, started me on a journey from pure science to the realm of the invisible, mind, body, metaphysics and personal development. My world view cracked open.
Working with DC Kordova and Robert Kyiosaki (Money and You program) brought me to Buckminster Fuller. His work has guided my life ever since. Everything he did speaks to me…his quest to demonstrate the existence of God/ Great Spirit, his life demonstration of Integrity, his childlike passion and joy, and his commitment to the whole of Universe.
Meeting Joseph at a Dan Millman seminar opened my world to the conversation around mental illness, life, death and depression and also brought me to the work of Caroline Myss. Joseph also opened me to love.
Meeting Michele through Money and You has given me a very special friend for life, plus brought me to coaching, a vocation I had been seeking for all of my life.
Coaching brought me to so many of my beloved friends, Marcia, Cheryl, Lorraine, DJ…and into work that I truly loved. Plus it allowed me to formulate the work around Dare to Care and to really develop myself as a communicator in service to the best in people. An Amchara to others. Such a privileged path.
All along this path I have been in a constant self inquiry, choosing always to go deeper into the darkness when it shows up, rather than run from the pain. Learning, questioning, staying still, feeling, being, expanding, seeking support from others.
Running became a place for me to combine everything…silence, movement, inner work, discipline, being in nature, meeting my beast and getting to know him, learning about my body and speaking physical fluently, traveling the world to run marathons…building relationships.
Mother hood really opened my heart. There is no doubt in my mind that my daughter was to be in my life. She was conceived while I was on the birth control pill, was very much in charge of how and when she was going to be born, and then opened my heart on her arrival. And she was born an angel. Of that I am sure. My job was to simply allow this angel wings to fly, and not mess her up, because the beauty and perfection were so present. Anyone who meets her is touched by her angel. It has been a privilege to be a steward in her unfolding.
During this whole time of my life there has been a quest and hunger for more. I have wanted to engage in a much bigger conversation, and work that is global in scope. It became apparent that money and the accumulation of it was never highest on my list. Living life out loud was always the highest and service to others has become ever more important.
For years I have questioned the definition of success. What is it? And what does success mean to me?
In the beginning my definition of success was very much rooted in the material world. Money and stuff! Having lots of homes around the world, traveling first class, dressing in fabulous designer clothes. But life was teaching me a richer meaning and definition of success, and I am grateful for that. The road to finding a definition of success that truly nourishes me has not been easy. And yet it has been infinitely perfect.
At some point I arrived at a definition of success that was rooted in my choices. That for me to be successful meant that I was honouring my intuitive guidance no matter what. I was successful if I paid attention to my deepest truth, and lived by that. This still works for me and is my challenge and joy. It is certainly not the easiest road, as there are times when my ego wants something very much…like status and recognition. Or when the opportunity to make a lot of money is oh so very tempting even though I know my heart and soul would not resonate with the opportunity and my spirit would be prostituted.
Today in a conversation that moved me to such a place of deep gratitude I heard David Martin’s definition of success.
“If I end the day with friends and strangers sharing a good meal then I am a wealthy person in the world”
This week I have had many occasions to do just this. For my path has brought me to those larger conversation that I have yearned for with people that I so love being with that I can hardly stand the joy of it. There is no mistakes…in Brazil I broke bread with people who are doing incredible work world wide, and from Brazil I get to spend this week in dialogue with some of these people as we start to co-create artifacts that every fibre of my being tells me will be of such value to the world.
Jonathan Fields shared in his blog the following..
Will this choice allow me to…
Spend the greatest amount of time..
absorbed in activities and relationships that fill me up…
while surrounding myself with people I cannot get enough of, and…
earning enough to live comfortably in the world…
“while adding value comprehensively…” (my personal addition)
My definition of success therefore goes something like this..
If I honour my highest truth at all times..
and get to spend my time doing work that adds value comprehensively…
with people who demonstrate beauty, integrity, and truth in all they do,
trusting at all times in the infinite wisdom of Universe..
then I am indeed successful.
Oh joy, oh joy…how lucky am I?
I would love to hear from you about what success means to you…
I had not really heard of the City of God, at least not enough to know anything about it. Was it a book or a movie? Yes, a movie was made in 2002. I hadn’t seen it. It was nominated for an Academy Award in the foreign language section. I have it now to watch.
Here I was on a brilliant Sunday morning, just after 10 am, about to embark on one of those magical mystical tours, for which you have no expectations, no knowledge of at the outset, and yet by travels end, leaves you permanently changed.
After my five days in Belo Horizonte at the State of the World Forum event, I discovered just before departing for the airport, that Nicky, one of the State of the World Forum participants, a world expert in working with cities and sustainability, was not only on my flight, she was in Rio de Janeiro for the same three days as me. We had not really connected at the conference, although I had had several experiences of her.
The first, as I was checking in to the hotel, was in noticing this woman, very determined and quite demanding at the reception desk. Yep…I judged her. Shame on me. Of course, she is me and my behaviour, which is precisely why I recognised her and reacted…and while I have managed to tone down my ability to be aggressive and bossy, it is still my default pattern, particularly if crossed, tired, or determined. I have no problem being aggressive, demanding, somewhat angry, even rude.
I know that much of that behaviour for me has been learned behaviour to cope with a man’s world where I have felt smaller, and…as a single parent, I thought I had to fight for every scrap…and yet it is also part of my inherent nature…I was the child who’s first words were bugger, bugger, bugger…angry at not getting my way…!
I do like that part of me. When the chips are down, I am good to have on your team, because I make impossible things happen, and I do not take no for an answer. In my wiser days, I have learned that there are other ways to go about this, far less aggressive and bolshy. However, the Universe was as usual plotting for me to get a stiff lesson in the bad habit of judging people so quickly. Touche.
My other experience of Nicky was in a dialogue where her foresight and insight were so astute one could only be in deep respect towards her immeasurable skills.
I was to find that she was a lady with enormous heart…
So I find myself sharing a car to the airport, and then a flight, and then the bus. We were like two lost souls in a foreign land, as indeed we were, and we bonded. I noticed she had a red coloured string around her wrist, the kind you get when visiting India. There was more to this woman than meets the eye…of course!!…I am sure the Universe was laughing at me …
Here I was Sunday morning, invited by Nicky to set out on this magical mystery tour with two women she had met in Belo.
Maria, tall, generous of heart and spirit, a native of Denmark, local resident of Rio, musician. Giselle, equally as tall, exquisitely beautiful, the epitome of the Brazilian girls you would expect to see dancing samba at Carnaval. Giselle doesn’t speak English well, Maria is fluent in both English and Portuguese.
Giselle is a model, and an entrepreneur. She started the first fashion school in the favela’s. She is now working with Maria on a project combining music and fashion to get support to bring kids out of the slums.
Joining us is Nicky’s Godson, Cato, recently graduated with a Ph.D. from Oxford University in English Literature, raised by Nicky after his parents death.
We drive down the coast for about 45 minutes to get to the City of God, one of Rio’s many slums, or favela’s. This one is peculiar in that it is flat, not clinging to the hill side as most of Rio’s other favela’s are.
Before we enter the favela we meet Giselle’s father, a tall and handsome man who runs a fruit stall. I was immediately impressed by the amount of genuine love and affection that Giselle and her father had for each other.
Giselle’s home and birth place was not far inside. Our odd little group didn’t seem to attract too much attention. I don’t know why…maybe staring at strangers is considered rude, or maybe we are not that unusual, or possibly because people are used to the strange.
For the most part, the streets and walkways were very clean. Old, broken down, rutted and pot holed, but clean. I found this throughout Rio. The animals that I did see seemed reasonably well cared for.
Giselle’s house was down a very narrow lane way where washing was hung against the walls. Her mother had lived in this house for a very long time, and born and raised 7 children here to two fathers. The house was about the size of two king sized beds, with a very small anti-chamber and single seater couch, which was where Giselle had slept. (I am not sure how?) Inside was a three seater couch, a TV and stereo, telephone, fridge, sink, stove and a screened off area I assumed was the bathroom/toilet? Electrical wires ran along the walls, the roof was corrugated material, probably asbestos. Giselle used a ladder to slide back one of the roof sheets so we had fresh air and light. A built in sun roof! I am not sure how a bunch of children managed to sleep in here, but I am sure it was cosy.
Giselle made us a delicious fresh fruit cocktail, we met her mother, who is about my height (short) and a very happy soul, we met the neighbours beautiful infant daughter and the family cat. There was love and joy overflowing.
From here we walked to the other side of the creek…which was more like an open sewer, to visit Giselle’s brother family. Their home was larger and more modern. Again, love was everywhere.
Along the way we met one of Giselle’s sister’s. She was short also, and had only a few teeth. And a very big smile. One of Giselle’s brothers has a daughter who is pregnant at 13 or 14. This is normal.
Next stop was to visit a friend who is both an astrologer and a web designer. His office/home was fully decked out with computer, sound equipment and such. Valdomiro is a bundle of joy. He was so excited to meet us and to learn that my mother is an astrologer. Within moments he shoved gifts for her into my hands. Such spontaneous generosity. Rare in most cities I have visited.
From the City of God we drove back towards Rio and stopped at Rocinha, one of the famous favela’s in South Rio. Rocinha does cling to the side of the hill and is busy, busy busy, like an ant hill. Since Giselle is not a local, the rules here are slightly different, we need to be a little more respectful, and a little more mindful of our guest status.
I am told that each favela has its rulers (drug lords) and laws. You do not steel from your own. There is no prostitution. Electricity if off the grid, so at no charge. (Also looks so haphazard I am sure people must get electrocuted regularly). There are no city services like garbage day.
In Rocinha we had lunch. It was about 4.30 in the afternoon and this is considered normal for lunch. It was Fathers Day, so the restaurant was busy. Lunch was the traditional Brazilian fare, meat, rice, beans, and the ever present caipirinhas (cane liquor and lime cocktails).
Cato was taking photo’s and Giselle told him not too. The street was very crowded, with motor bikes going too and fro, missing people by inches. However, there was also activity in the street, of the drug kind. And photo’s were a no no.
My eyes were not trained to see this kind of activity. To Giselle it was obvious. It reminded me of the story of native indians not being able to see boats when they first arrived. Their eyes had no ability to see boats. Or my little dog, unable to see/respond to her reflection in the mirror. I was blind to the workings of the street.
What I was not blind to was the guy who went right by me on a motorbike, inches from me, with a very nasty looking machine gun over his shoulder. I was reminded that I was in another world, with different rules. Street rules, and they seemed to work well.
The entire day was devoid of any kind of fear. Or disgust. Or shame. Indeed, I experienced the opposite. Love, generosity, joy, care and respect.
Maria tells me that most of the people that work in Rio’s hotels and bars live in the favela’s. Those lovely people who stand at the door of my hotel and smile when I enter, or help me with my bags, or serve me for breakfast, or clean my room.
Sure, some of them steal, and crime in Rio is supposed to be very bad. But most of the favelados, the residents of the favela’s, are the working class, and they have dignity and pride, and work with respect and care for others.
When I look at Giselle and her family, at their spontaneous expression of love, their openness and joy, I see the beauty of the favela’s. Their values are different from ours. Less complex.
I feel very lucky for what I have. For being born in a country like Australia. At the same time, I feel sad that so many of us born to privilege have been overcome by a disease of wanting ever more, of deep dissatisfaction with the level of what we have, of being insanely driven to get more. It is a sickness that creates entitlement, whinging, obsession, debt and spiritual poverty.
Several days later, standing on top of Sugarloaf Mountain, looking down upon the beauty of Rio, with all its light and shade, I asked myself what can we do…what do we do to turn the world around from the mess we are in…from our crazy silly lifestyle that is killing mother earth? Over population, rotten waterways, pollution, over consumption, over use of chemicals in farming…lack of water…all this…what do we do? And part of the solution has to do with getting people out of poverty. Poverty has to to with our economic system, which is no longer viable to support the healthy future of the world and its inhabitants. At the same time, we must also be mindful of protecting against spiritual poverty.
Are we able to lift that 80% out of financial poverty without turning them into us…insatiable machines who have forgotten real joy and value? That is our work. It requires love and compassion and deep integrity, tempered with great wisdom and courage.
What a day…back at the hotel at 6.30 pm, tired, dusty, and at peace, I thought about what a special day I had had.
Maria, sharing the heart of her beloved adopted Rio, Giselle, sharing her transcendent beauty and love, Nicky, a beautiful soul with a warriors heart and a genuine care for people, Cato, at that golden point in life where we need to take a deep breath and choose our path, and me…surrendered to the magical mystery tour that is life and that constantly has me in awe. And then people of Rio. Alive, pulsing to the music of samba.
My friend Alexandra, Rio local, tells me that few non favela locals have had the kind of experience I had on this day. Few people get to go inside the slums as a guest.
I feel gratitude…and for the remaining days in Rio, I ride the bus, and walk the streets, absent of fear, deeply in love with this city and its breathtaking beauty, and immense poverty, its magnificent light and shade, its heat and passion reflected in the rhythm and sound of the drums, the samba, and the down and dirty of life lived loud.