Things I know to be true

http://www.mynewnormals.com/truth-hurts/I recently read the Happiness Project and in it, Gretchen Rubin talks about her ‘secrets of adulthood’. She starts the book with this list – it’s sort of a summary of things she has found to be true. You can read her list here. It made me think of my own truisms. Here’s what I have learnt during this wonderful life of mine:

  • Life surprises us most of the time.
  • The world is being run without me having any say in it so I should just concentrate on helping when I can.
  • The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists, it rewards people who get things done.
  • Rather than being scared and running away from things, sometimes you just gotta show up. Despite fear. Despite discomfort.
  • Motherhood is a privileged path.
  • When you feel ambivalence creeping in to your life, you need to follow it to its source.
  • Creativity can be nurtured, but is mostly innate.
  • Never underestimate the importance of hard work.
  • Don’t mistake sweetness for weakness.
  • There is nothing pretty about entitlement.
  • Every person is a living, breathing story. Just like me.
  • Reading, watching and listening to trash creates pollution of the mind.
  • Happiness is the greatest revenge.
  • There are many different ways of caring.
  • You always take your point of view with you.
  • It’s amazing how deep happiness can go.
  • I don’t need an audience for every moment of my life.
  • Relationships are a day by day trek toward greater patience, deeper love & gutsier faith.
  • Donating money to charity is not the most I can do. It’s the least I can do.
  • Eating chocolate gives you cancer. Not eating chocolate gives you cancer. Just eat the chocolate.
  • Racism was the fight of last century, homophobia is the fight of this century. Fight the fight.
  • Have less, enjoy more.
  • Australianism is not just what’s in your own backyard.
  • Every time you eat a schnitzel, you may as well just tape the whole thing to your thigh.
  • Goodness in people overwhelms anything that is not goodness.
  • Pinterest breeds unrealistic expectations.
  • Just because something is a good opportunity doesn’t mean you have to do it.
  • Own your own story.
  • It’s more important to focus than multitask
  • Humans are imperfect. And that’s where the beauty lies.

What do you know to be true?

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Read, watch, hear

Read it! 

Something I love about Ian is how well he knows me. I know it seems obvious that the person I’m married to should know me better than anyone. So I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t take it for granted. It’s one of my favourite things.

Even though we have very different taste in, well, everything (!), E always knows what I’ll like, what will inspire me and what will scare me. He gently pushes me to read different things, watch different things and try different things. And I know I need pushing sometimes.

So this short story by Issac Asimov is not something I’d normally even come across, let alone read. It’s not my preferred genre. But it was good. And E knew I’d like it, because the ending (which you MUST NOT skip to prematurely) echoes thoughts I often have about the world.

Watch it! 
I also wanted to share with you a video I came across which I similarly, knew that Ian would be interested to watch.

Seeing this guy base jump and then free dive made my own lungs positively ache. I kept finding that while I was watching it, I was holding my breathe and then gasping for air. At the same time though, the whole thing felt quite ethereal.

Hear it!
Earlier this year, a couple of different bloggers I love talked about how much they enjoy pod casts. Tomas and Jones and Joy the Baker both posted about their favourite things to listen to. Between their own recommendations and those mentioned by their blog commenters, I had a big long list to start working my way through.

I’ve always been a strictly vodcast girl myself. In the past, I’ve found it hard to listen to audio books, radio shows or podcasts because without a visual, my mind tends to wander off. However in just a couple of months, I’ve become totally addicted to filling my ears with the words of intelligent, social commentators. My mind feels nourished in a way that it hasn’t for a long time.

I have a looong list of favourites that I shall share another time. But one for today is Stuff you should know. It’s a weekly, 40 minute pod cast that is completely different to anything else I listen to and I love it. Each week, the two guys cover really random topics and they explain how stuff works. Recent topics have been; 3d printing, landslides, amnesia,  electricity, skateboarding,  online dating,the Spanish inquisition, termites (creepy!) amputation, (gruesome!) and then a whole session about riots at Kent State University in the 70s. I’ve been learning a lot!

So friends if you have anything you’ve read, watched or heard lately that you think I’d like, please share :)

Breaking up with the City

I never thought it would happen, but I seem to be falling out of love with City living. I think the City and I need some time apart, time to think things through, to decide whether we can make it work again.

I’ve always loved the City. Ever since I can remember. As a kid, I’d be here quite a lot. We’d have trips to Sydney to see a show, visit friends, have yum cha. I always knew I’d end up living and working down here and I have now for almost 12 years. I’ve loved it for so long. But lately….

I’ve been feeling smothered by the City. The air feels dirty. The crowds feel intense.

As I get jostled about in the morning when I’m doing the daily commute, I no longer appreciate the energy of the other people around me but feel a strong desire for much more personal space.

The vibrancy of city living is conflicting with my need right now for quiet and peace and solace. I don’t know where these new needs came from. They snuck up on me and caught me by surprise.

Our flat feels small and cramped. I’m tired of guests that have to sleep on the floor, of having to remove 8 items from a cupboard, just to reach the sandwich press, of lugging bags of groceries up three flights of stairs.

I’m tired of walking through Darling Quarter, a million children screaming, squabbling, laughing. It seems so loud now, when it was once a delight.

I’ve felt upset lately and when I contemplate reasons why, it all seems to come back to this feeling of being cooped up.

Sometimes I feel like I can’t breathe here.

And yet.

There is energy here. Bustling crowds of people, mostly in good moods, all on their way to something fun. There are nights out, every day of the week, festivals every weekend, new restaurants opening every month.

There’s spirit here. And diversity. Multiculturalism like no other place I know.

This feeling  typically comes every January. After the quiet peace of time with family over Christmas, coming back to Sydney life always jolts me. But then I settle back into a routine and feel glad to be living in a place I love so much.

This year, that feeling didn’t come. I’ve been sick of Sydney, sick of the grind, sick of commuting. Wondering if I can do this every day for the rest of my life? Can I do this? This thing that we all need to do? Every day?

People come from all over the world to see this beautiful city. And it is beautiful. But maybe right now, it’s just not for me.

Sweet sound of silence

The sound of silence soothes my soul.

I like the TV to be off. I like driving without the radio. I like walking to the gym in the morning when it’s dark and quiet and the only thing I can hear are the footsteps of all the other people heading to the same place.

I like a distant hum of sound. Lawn movers at a house, two properties over. Cars swishing through puddles in the rain. People clicking away at their keyboards.

I don’t like it when people speak loudly. I don’t like it when my microwave, car and washing machine beep repetitively. They’re trying to tell me something with all their beeping. I wish they’d whisper instead.

This world we live in is a noisy place. But the silence, it’s so refreshing. And it makes me feel calm. Peaceful. Like there is snow inside my mind.

Shhh.

Happiness is…

  • Cream cheese frosting
  • When the radio is psychic
  • Regina Spektor
  • The internet
  • Clean sheets
  • Beautiful stationery
  • Mexican food
  • Golden retrievers
  • My sister by blood and my sisters by soul
  • Licorice
  • The satisfaction of reading the last page in a really good book
  • The smell of rain
  • Fresh air
  • Cheese
  • Picnics
  • Pretending to have a British accent
  • Ian’s love notes, written on the shower glass when it’s all fogged up
  • Earl grey tea
  • When you catch a stranger smiling about something they’re thinking
  • Apple cider
  • Reading blogs
  • Being at home
  • Twilight (the time of day)
  • When you can feel the warm sun on your skin
  • Cooking with my Mum
  • The smell of citrus
  • Seeing Ian’s face light up when he sees me & knowing mine has done the same
  • Snail mail
  • Skim flat whites
  • Laughing uncontrollably
  • Burgers
  • Cuddling under the doona
  • Memories of my Grandmother
  • Bright nail polish
  • The feeling of sand between your toes on the beach
  • Sushi
  • Discovering a new recipe and cracking it first go
  • Spending hours in a cafe, reading a good book
  • Surprising Ian with cookies
  • Dreaming up new decorating ideas for our first home
  • Walking bare foot on soft grass
  • Feeling smitten
  • Ordering books online
  • Organising my cupboards
  • Old couples holding hands
  • Charity
  • The smell of fresh herbs
  • Beer ads
  • The feel of Ian’s feet on mine, under the covers
  • Holding newborn babies
  • Being able to cook or bake with no deadline
  • Iced coffees
  • Trees
  • Floating on my back in the pool
  • Red lipstick
  • Sharing a meal with friends
  • The crunching sound my computer’s recycled bin makes when it empties
  • Illustrations
  • Drew’s face when I read him Fox in Socks
  • Getting a genuine & meaningful compliment
  • Photos from Sheela
  • Knowing all the words to a song I haven’t heard in years
  • Finding the perfect gift
  • Tiramisu
  • Rainbows
  • Collecting random, pretty things
  • Being in love
  • Learning something new
  • Puppies
  • Not having to set an alarm
  • Inside jokes that never die
  • Smelling like my soap + shampoo after a shower
  • Hugs
  • Runculus
  • Slurpees
  • Walking home in the dark
  • Cobbled streets
  • The quiteness of a library
  • Crinkle cut potato chips
  • The way my hair feels under water
  • Watching Ian try to whistle
  • Making lists
  • Summer nights
  • Eating cold pizza for breakfast
  • Remedial massages
  • Freshly vaccumed floors
  • Women of substance.
It’s the little things. 
xx

What if I stumble?

I love the beginning of DC Talk’s ‘What if I stumble’?

“The single greatest cause of atheism in the world today
Is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips
Then walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle.
That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable .

 

I don’t want to be one of those Christians.

 

 

List twelve: Things I know

In my time on this planet, I’ve learnt that:

–       my life is wonderful

–       family and friends are everything

–       sport is actually what makes the world go around, not love

–       self awareness is one of the finest qualities a person can have

–       there is nothing more invigorating than engaging, thoughtful conversation

–       having simple tastes leads to happiness

–       we need to tread lightly on the earth

–       you should care about how people feel but not about what they think of you

–       to be a good listener, you need to ask better questions

–       there’s nothing more exciting than seeing someone’s life affected in a positive way by something you’ve said or done for them. Continue reading “List twelve: Things I know”

Books that speak to you

Not long after I did the ‘7 habits of highly effective people’ course, I read ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’. It was perfect timing because I was totally in the zone of simplifying then enriching my life.

And that’s what the book is all about. Investing less in material things and investing more in relationships and experiences.

The book is a true story about Morrie Schwartz, an inspirational teacher and mentor who touched the lives of all his students. In particular he had a big impact on Mitch Albom. But then they lost touch. Mitch became a well known sports journalist and a pretty materialistic person. Sixteen years later, Mitch heard through the grapevine that Morrie had Lou Gehrig’s disease (Motor Neurone Disease). He went back to visit Morrie and was reminded how witty and wise his professor was. He was also impressed with the joy Morrie took in living. One Tuesday turned into another and Mitch started to record their conversations, which became the basis for the book.

I took two key things out of the story.

First, Morrie reminded Mitch that life is too short to spend time doing things you don’t want to do or to be with people who don’t bring you joy. He said “”You have to find what’s good and true and beautiful in your life as it is now.” That message reiterated what I’d just learnt when I did the 7 habits course too. And it lead me to end two relationships that were not bringing me any joy. One was with someone who’d been in my life since I was a kid and the other was with a girl at work.

Both friendships seemed really one sided. It was always about the other person and neither of those girls were really positive people. I would often come away from time with each of them feeling drained. In particular, my child hood friend never seemed to care about what I was up to and I realised at one point that she had only asked me one question about my life in a 12 month period. I was just an ear for her to talk into. So I basically stopped contacting her and the same with the girl at work too.

Now I have more time to spend with people who are filled with positive energy and who bring something good to my life. It’s refreshing to be with people who fill your soul up each and every time you see them.

The second lesson for me was a reminder that physical objects and materialism brings you fleeting happiness. Morrie said to Mitch “Don’t cling to things, because everything is impermanent. You can’t substitute material things for love or for gentleness or for tenderness or for a sense of comradeship”.

I’m the first to admit that I like nice things (not necessarily expensive things, just nice things).  But really, I just want to live a simple life. I don’t want a lot of stuff. Not just because it’s unnecessary, but because it’s bad for the environment and adds clutter to your life too.

When I’m 80 and I look back at my life the way Morrie did, I hope I can say it was filled with fabulous times, not fabulous things.

So lovely friends, what book has really spoken to you?

Here are some of my favourite quotes from the book that Mitch attributed to Morrie

“So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”

“The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it.”

“The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.”

“…there are a few rules I know to be true about love and marriage: If you don’t respect the other person, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you don’t know how to compromise, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you can’t talk openly about what goes on between you, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. And if you don’t have a common set of values in life, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. Your values must be alike.”

“In the beginning of life, when we were infants, we need others to survive, right? And at the end of life, when you get like me, you need others to survive, right? But here’s the secret: in between, we need others as well.”

The right place at the right time

Sometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right time. Sometimes it’s a physical thing. Sometimes it’s mental.

Case in point:

Last year, my gorgeous Uncle Roch was quite sick. For awhile there, no doctor or specialist could work out exactly what was wrong with him. This was scary and depressing enough in itself. But to make his situation worse, the one thing he kept being told by people in the medical field was that he needed to stop taking all of his herbal supplements. Their theory was that his daily herbal routine might have been impacting on the results of testing they were doing.

Now giving up one’s herbs might sound quite easy. But Uncle Roch is a Pharmacist, Medical Herbalist, Nutritionalist and Homeopathy practitioner. So telling him to give up the more natural side of his daily regime would be the equivalent of telling the Pope to stop praying for awhile.

One afternoon, we were visiting Uncle R is hospital and he was telling us about how he’d been really down right up until the night before. But then he said that a movie had come on that had completely changed his perspective about the whole situation. Apparently the movie was about a guy whose wife left him for his best friend and then to make matters worse, his house burnt down. Uncle Roch went on to say that there was a scene where the guy got a talking to from his best friend. And the best friend said something along the lines of ‘you have to find the real you, deep within yourself, and deal with the situation in a better way’.

At which point, Uncle Roch decided that he was going to make a comeback. He was no longer going to feel down, but instead find the strength of character that led to him being nicknamed Rocky. So after a good five minutes of ‘Rocky’s back’ cheers all round, I asked what the name of the movie was. It sounded so inspiring that I wanted to watch it to.

And Uncle Roch said ‘It was called You, Me & Dupree’.

After recovering from the revelation that an Owen Wilson movie had inspired anyone, I realised that for him, that movie was simply played on exactly the right Saturday night in his life. Mentally, he was receptive to a message in the movie that he may not have cared for at any other time. And actually after telling Ian’s Mum this story, it turns out she was watching the same movie on the same night and she almost turned it off, such was her disinterest with it.

For me, being in the right place at the right mental time was when I did the ‘7 habits of highly effective people’ course. It was through work and I have to confess that I am usually skeptical of wanky management courses. Books like ‘Who moved my cheese’ make me roll my eyes so hard that my head almost falls off. Plus at that point, I already considered myself a highly effective person so I felt like I could run the course, not participate in it. And the accompanying book by Stephen Covey bored me to tears.

But the delivery of the course was fantastic because we had a trainer who gave us a lot of freedom and time to reflect. And over the three days I did this course, my perspective on a lot of things in life changed.

I guess everyone takes different things away from courses like this. At the time I did it, I was feeling stretched. I was always busy and therefore always tired.  For me, what really resonated was that I wasn’t spending my time doing the things I wanted to do with the people that I love.

We literally had to make a list of all the people in our world and we ordered them from the person that’s the most important to us, right down to the person that’s the least important. Which was really hard to do. At the time if felt like I was picking my second, third and fourth best friends, primary school style. As soon as I finished the course, I quickly alphabetised the list in case anyone ever found it and felt hurt.

But what I realised was that I was trying to pack too many people into my life and as a result, I wasn’t really spending quality time with anyone. I would also always take on the responsibility for organising social events. My calendar was so full, that I was barely enjoying myself. I would spend almost every catch up with friends trying to work out how I’d have energy for everything else I had planned in the following few days.

And when I talked to the trainer about that, she just looked at me and asked ‘Why do you take all that on and do things that you don’t want to do?’ Very good question. Why indeed.

I did it because I would get major cases of social guilt. The kind that in my head would sound like this: ‘Oh goodness, I haven’t seen X for a few weeks, I better organise something, oh and, Y said that we should all go and do this, so I better organise that too’. And ‘I don’t really want to go to this get together but I’ll feel bad if I don’t’.

I also felt that if I ever showed interest in something that someone suggested, I’d have to follow through on it and make it happen. But what I’ve realised now that I’ve given that up, is that most people aren’t all that good at follow through. So even if people suggest doing a whole bunch of stuff, they never really get around to actually doing something about it.

Since I finished the 7 habits course last year, I’ve done things a bit differently:

  • If someone says ‘Hey, we should go do this or that together’. I say ‘Sure, sounds great’. And I wait for them to get back to me rather than taking it on myself.
  • I don’t actually say I’ll do something or agree to something if I don’t want to do it. For example, almost as soon as I finished the course, I pulled out of a book club I was going to because I realised I didn’t have fun there. I started my own instead. And when that got too hard to coordinate, I just let it go.
  • I don’t take on any guilt. When people try to call Ian and can’t get him and then ring me and whinge about it, I just say ‘I’ll let him know you called’. And I don’t stress about it. Why should he have to call people back if he doesn’t really want to talk to them? The old me would have forced him to ring them back.
  • I spend way more time by myself because Neen time is important!
  • I see less of my friends, which does make me feel sad at times but I’ve realised that I need and want time by myself and time with Ian. So some weekends I don’t want to make plans to be with anyone else. And I no longer agree to more than one social event per day.
  • I do make an effort though to organise semi regular dates and catch ups with the people I love most.

It’s no Owen Wilson movie, but those 7 habits came along exactly when I needed to learn them.