A pocket full of treasure: reflecting on January.

When my son was young he used to collect things and stow them in his pockets to enjoy later. Typically, he would forget about them and I would discover his pockets full of treasure on washing day. It was kind of fun in a way to see what he’d collected and remember where we’d been when he discovered each small item and tucked it away for safe keeping. There were all sorts of things in those little pockets from shells and rocks to sand and bus tickets. All very precious and intriguing to my little man.

Years later I find myself with a pocket full of treasure. Having committed to taking a photo a day for the year, I spent yesterday flicking through “January” and delighting in the memory of each day. The daily fun and joy and wonders come back ever so clearly to be enjoyed again.


So January has zoomed by in what seems the blink of an eye and the click of a button but my pocket full of simple photos has allowed me to take another look and appreciate the richness of my days. Life seems somewhat fuller with a small token of remembrance.

I am reminded of that saying: “collect memories,not things.” It certainly is rewarding.

Blessings to you. I trust you’ve enjoyed a joyful January.

Shannyn

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How twenty minutes of meditation changed my life.

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So things heated up around here this week and I’m not talking about the weather either. My days went from relaxed quiet pottering to scheduled, busy deadline filled activity.  It has been a zero to one hundred week, in the blink of an eye.

But something interesting happened. I began the week with a positive frame of mind and resolved to remain positive and I watched as slowly the jobs, expectations and commitments rose. I watched too as the road blocks were laid down – such as no working air con, computer access issues and a myriad of other little stumbling blocks and challenges that popped up left, right and centre.

I was tired out and began to feel an all too familiar anxious stirring in my gut. Yet, at the same time, I still felt a sense of calm sitting behind it all.  I realised I was noticing my reactions to what was going on without grabbing hold of them or letting them grab hold of me. I was being the silent witness as we are taught in meditation.

This was a truly surreal experience for me. I can easily go from calm to overwhelm in next to no time but I realised I was not buying into that. Things have changed and I owe it to my twenty minute morning and evening meditation.

I’ve meditated for some time now with varying degrees of success but it wasn’t until the end of last year that I committed to sitting twice a day. Right now twenty minutes morning and evening is perfect for me. It allows me to centre myself for the day and to let go and return to centre of an evening. Instead of begrudgingly making time or skipping meditation, using tiredness as an excuse as I have in the past,  I now relish this time for myself and I haven’t missed a session since I began. I knew this simple commitment was having a great effect on me but I hadn’t realised just how powerful until I witnessed the change in my behaviour to the busy, full throttle week I’ve had.

Meditation, and my yoga practice, have been my safety nets. They have bolstered and buoyed me, they have nourished and nurtured me and they have helped me to retain my centre, my poise, my ‘self’ when it could have, as it indeed has in the past, so easily been snapped away in a whirlwind.

To meditate means to go home to yourself. Then you know how to take care of the things that are happening inside you, and you know how to take care of the things happening around you.             Thich Nhat Hanh

Blessings of peace and calm to you this week. May you return ‘home’.

Shannyn

How to frame your masterpiece.

Image by Houzz

Image by Houzz

In the Jeffery rush film, The Best Offer, in which Rush plays an antique and art dealer, there is a magnificent room full, floor to ceiling, of paintings.  Scenes of this room transported me back to the Uffizi Gallery, in Florence, where there is a similar room, a replica of a room in a villa of the Grand Prince Ferdanando. The movie and my memory of the Uffizi had me considering the way we present and frame our lives.

If life were a canvas, or a tapestry, how would you frame yours?  Would your emphasis be on the sections you didn’t favour? Would you frame to highlight the wonderful bits? Would you set your frame off centre and capture a small section of life that stood out for you?

Would you, perhaps, capture different aspects of your life in a variety of frames – small, large, in between, gilt, matt, oval, square, round and place them all on a wall for perusal, review, consideration; each picture telling a part of the story?

Or would you set out to encapsulate the entirety of it, choosing to include all parts- good, bad, indifferent, significant, seemingly insignificant?

Often we zoom in with a telescopic lens on sections of our life. I expressly remember learning about Michalangelo’s Sistine Chapel paintings when in school. Particular panels were bought to our attention to engage us, excite us, to make us question – the skin of Michalangelo in the Last Judgement, the fingers of God and Adam and that extruciating gap between them. While they are intriguing and significant, they are but details that make up the whole and neither of these details tell the story of the whole work on their own.  Nor would the work be the same without them.

Coming back to my musings on life as a work of art. I began reflecting on how often people I meet frame themselves by their past or by the dreams they have for the future. So many times I’ve heard people say things such as “I had a difficult childhood therefore …” or “One day I’m going to …”  This type of focus serves only to capture in minute detail the intricacies of the one part, excluding all others. It’s like looking only at Mona Lisa’s smile and not recognising the depth in her eyes or the world outside her window. It isn’t you. It’s part of you but it isn’t the entirely of you.

As humans we use photos to caputre significant moments in time, and that’s fantastic. Memories are treasures but let us be aware this year as we go forth to enjoy new adventures, to live and learn and grow that we are more than a moment captured in time, we are the length, breadth and depth of our experiences here on this earth and all of them, the good, the bad, the ugly make up the rich tapestry of our lives.

Enjoy the whole of you. Celebrate your uniqueness and the small things that make you you but always see them as a part of a grand masterpiece. Do you need to reframe your masterpiece?

Snakes, spiders, wallabies and chimpanzees.

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Since the new year began many friends and acquaintances have had either dreams of or incidents involving animals. A friend had been seeing spiders on a regular basis, then one jumped onto her dinner plate (you can just imagine the hysteria that created at a dinner party), she also had a fox cross her path that same night while driving home. Another friend saw a white python in a dream, an acquaintance retold her dream which featured four wallabies and a chimpanzee and another has dreamt of dragons and seen dragon images, ornaments etc as she goes about her days.

A lot of people, and not even particularly spiritual people, are noticing the animals that present themselves and are asking questions about their meaning.  Sometimes there are messages for us in these moments. You can do searches on the internet to find out spiritual meanings of particular animals and that’s a great place to start. Read what you find from several sources and notice what really resonates or stands out for you in what is written. Take that information and see what aspect of your life it pertains to.

Another method of working out what message may be contained in your interactions with the animal kingdom is to ask yourself what that animal signifies to you. For example, I’ve had several close encounters with birds lately. Five huge pelicans flew very close overhead while I was on the beach, later that day I was able to get very close to a pelican – when others tried he flew away. While in the bush one day I happened upon a chorus of currawongs, high in the trees. I stopped to listen as the song was magnificent and I slowly started to see there were up to twenty birds sitting low on branches, not singing but also not shying away from my presence. Instead, they seemed to follow me as I moved on my way. I have birds that wake me in the morning and birds that have flown directly across my path, so close I could  feel the breeze from their wings. In these instances I ask myself what is the message here? To me birds represent flight, freedom and unconscious self-expression. So my message was to stop holding back and run with the project I had in mind. It was also about knowing it was safe to speak openly about my project and ideas.

Signs and messages come to us in many forms. You don’t have to be a cheesecloth wearing, incense waving hippy or a gypsy fortune teller (no disrespect intended to either hippies or gypsies) to believe or to benefit.  Be on the look out, be aware – what is that song that’s playing over and over in your head trying to tell you? Did a headline in the paper hold the key to a question you’ve long held? Did you turn the television on to hear a story, see a program about a problem you’ve been trying to solve? Life can be fun and if we are open and aware we can see signs and recieve guidance from the most unlikely sources.

Scheduled fun!

We are driven by five genetic needs: survival, love and belonging, power, freedom and fun.              

                                                                                         William Glasser

Do you have a list of fun things to do in 2014?

Some years ago I began making a list of fun ways to spend time. It was like a dream list in a way. The aim was to tick off as many activities as I could in a year. The list also proved to be useful on those rare occasions when I wasn’t sure how to fill my weekend or spare moments.

What kind of things were on these lists you might ask. Well, all sorts really. Little things from going for a picnic by the river to swinging on the play equipment in a park or visiting the museum regularly.

There were also things on there I’d been wanting to try, like floating in a float tank, zorbing, walking the Milford Track. You get the picture.

After a wee hiatus of a few years I picked up the pen on New Year’s Day and created a list for 2014. It’s not done yet. I know there’s more to add but it’s a start. In my last blog I said I was going to dance more, host tea parties, go clothes shopping and have fun with it. That was just the beginning. I added a few other items and created a photo collage as a great stimulus to encourage me to play this year, get out in the world and have fun.

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Interestingly, something new crept in this year. Challenges! Yes, a couple of things on the list are personal challenges. I decided I wanted to read more and to define it I set myself the challenge to read at least … fifty books this year (the number just popped into my head. Crazy!). On reflection, that’s a pretty tall order given all the work related reading I have to do but I’m keen and excited to see how I go. The second challenge I set myself was to take a photo a day for 365 days. What on earth will I do with all those photos you ask? Hmmm, not sure yet but I may publish them as a photo blog – daily, twice a week, weekly, monthly???

Anyway, the point is, sometimes it’s handy to plan our fun. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for spontaneity but let’s face it some of us are just not that spontaneous and when work and life demands creep in and we are tired. It’s easy to squander the weekends, sitting on the couch, mindlessly watching the television when you have no stimulus. I, and those I’ve shared this with, find when we create a list we are excited to complete a wish, tick it off and move on to a new one. When we get to the end of the year there is a sense of really having lived, of having spent our time well. We’ve swung the scales in favour of life as opposed to work being the weightier side.

It’s just a bit of fun. It’s not meant to be onerous? Some items may carry across to the following year so there is no harm done if every item isn’t ticked off. As for my challenges, again they are just a bit of fun to stretch me. If things don’t unfold as planned, hey, it’s not the end of the world. I’m just keen to have more fun and enjoyment in my life this year. Will you?

Fun is good.   Dr Seuss