Walking the landscape of life

Be a hill seeker
Most of us try to avoid hills but what’s good about flat? Think about flat tires, flat hair, flat returns (what about flat cakes) and the ultimate flat – flatlining.  Life happens on the hills.  They’re opportunities to prove to yourself that you are stronger than you ever imagined.  If you never attempt the ascent you’ll never know the thrill of swooshing down the other side.

Have you read this quote before? What’s its relevance for you? As a hiker I love it but it’s also a nice analogy for life.

I’m not a thrill seeker,  I’m fairly conservative and non spontaneous and I baulk at hills, more so the physical hills but also the figurative hills in life.  I pretty much seek the easy path while wanting the ultimate outcome, prize or goal. It simply isn’t going to happen. Is it? Einstein said we can’t expect a different result if we do things the same way. It’s crazy behaviour as well as making for a mundane existence.

I’ve examined this behaviour of mine and realise the root of the issue is that I constantly underestimate my ability to tackle hills or mountains; and I’ve trekked a few in my time. You know what usually happens though? Once I begin, the apprehension lessens, the fear rolls away, a little excitement creeps in and a decent sense of achievement blooms. Oh, yes, there’s sweat along the way and some discomfort too (there might even be some cursing when the path gets extremely steep and narrow and rocky), though the more I face up to the hills and mountains the less uncomfortable it gets. Of course all hills are different and they all have their own topography to navigate, so no two are the same. Once at the top I wonder why I ever doubted myself. The satisfaction, the triumph and the joy are just rewards for a little time and perspiration.

A little fun fact that has helped me no end when setting out to climb a hill, and I realise this can help too with those figurative hills in life, is that most humans overestimate the steepness ahead of by at least 15 and in some cases 30 percent. So next time you have the option of the flat or the high road, seek out the hill because the rise ahead isn’t as savage as it appears at first glance. There’s a great satisfaction that comes from challenging yourself and doing something different. Gaining a different perspective can change the map you were previously following. Sometimes you just want to go a different way once you get that bird’s eye view. It really does just begin with putting one foot in front of the other and committing.

I agree with the above quote in that we never really know what we can achieve until we set out to conquer something, be it a physical challenge or some other goal in life. My opinion differs from the wisdom above too.  It’s all life. Life occurs on the hills, on the swoosh down and in the flat places in between.  The thrills might occur when we take a risk and veer off the flat path but the key, I believe, is to make sure we experience the range of landscapes available to us, because variety adds spice to life.

Making change happen

image

It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen.  Scott Belsky

Where are you heading: professionally, personally, spiritually?  Are you chasing your tail? Running in circles? Stuck in a rut, not getting anywhere fast?

Stop! Take a breath and consider the following five behaviours that might help move you forward.

image

Stay committed to your ideas but stay flexible in your approach.
Tony Robbins

Are you nimble and agile; prepared to veer off course, move in different directions and in different ways? Life is like an obstacle course. At times we can mosey along the straight path on other occasions  we’ll be required to climb or pull ourselves over the high walls. Sometimes we will have to scramble under low hanging obstacles and get messy and dirty.  Of course, it’s not all hard work, all the time, there will be great stretches ahead that allow you to skip, walk or run free. Practice being nimble and agile in your thinking and your approach to life, to reaching your goals and to discovering and fulfilling your purpose.

image

Creativity takes courage.  Henri Matisse

Are you thinking creatively?  If we always do things the same way, how can we expect different outcomes? Being open to approaching life in creative ways can get us out of the mire, our stuckness and sameness.  Doing things differently opens doors for us and gives us a change of perspective. It brings us into contact with new thoughts, new people, new situations.  So, consider a different approach, choose a different attitude, behave differently. Try something new.

image

Some people want  it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.  Michael Jordan

Do the heavy lifting.  Hoping someone will knock on the door and offer you your dream, hand you your perfect life, job, relationship, sadly isn’t going to happen. It’s up to you to do the heavy lifting to get to where you want to be. Sometimes it’s only a short burst of heavy duty work and at others there will be some serious, consistent strength training required to shape your world.  Are you prepared to sweat for your dream?

image

You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.  Christopher Columbus

To make real and long term change we must take risks. How can we hope to move, grow, change if we stay safely in our comfort zone? Responsible risk taking, along with agility, creativity and heavy lifting and even independent of these preciously discussed behaviours can move us forward leaps and bounds. Be courageous. Step outside your comfort zone for what you want you’ll be surprised where it will take you.

image

We rise by lifting others. Robert Ingersoll

Help others. We are not alone. We may all be on different paths but we are all heading somewhere. Help others along the way. Give someone a leg up where needed. Lend a helping hand when and where you can so someone else can move forward on their journey. Be generous with your time, your skills and talents. When we help others, we help ourselves in unknown ways.

Do your current modes of behaviour, your current attitudes and approaches best support your desired outcome? Be it a career change, personal development, spiritual fulfilment, if you are not seeing results consider what you might start doing, stop doing and keep doing to propel you forward.

Are you nimble and agile, creative, doing the heavy lifting, taking responsible risks, helping others?

Food for thought (and action!)

Shannyn

 

Feed and grow your own magic

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”  Melody Beattie

I’ve been thinking lately of how, when one passes away and leaves the earth, our footprint, our stamp on the earth, lasts for a time but is eventually worn smooth as those who love you also pass.   I’ve been thinking too of that moment in time when your voice and your stories are no longer heard and when your image in a photograph is no longer recognised by its viewers. I’m not sure exactly when that occurs and I’m sure it’s different for everyone but it’s been very strongly in my thoughts as I think about my grandparents and loved ones who have passed.  For me, I still feel them strongly.  I hear their voices still and I speak of them often.  But when I go, when my son no longer tells his children of my grandparents, what then? It’s like your echo stops rebounding and there is a silence, a stillness where you once were.

image

On a pre-dawn walk, along a magical piece of coastline in Brisbane, just a few days ago I decided, not that I want my echo to last and last, but that I want the echo of places I’ve been, people I’ve spent time with, stuff I’ve done and achieved to echo within me for the rest of my days. A thought, that I guess was always there, bubbled and rose into a solid and conscious knowing and a conviction that I wanted to create moments of joy for myself that would sustain me, nourish me and fulfill me. I want to feel joyous anticipation for life and I want to truly cherish those moments, right now in the present and for years to come.

Often times I catch myself sitting at home and thinking, “Gosh, I should be out doing something. I’m wasting my life”. I’m convinced, on those occasions, that no one has a less interesting life than I.  Then, I think how silly that is. Life doesn’t have to be lived at break neck speed or be jam packed with adrenaline fuelled exploits. Sometimes it’s those quiet moments with a book and a cup of tea that are the most joyful. I can’t tell you how much I treasure the conversations I’ve had with my nana sitting at her kitchen table.  No pomp or ceremony, just us. Just love.

So, as the morning of a new year dawned and as I was enjoying the smell of the ocean bought to me on a gentle breeze I was  drawn to reflect on the year that had been and how the echo of that year affected me.  You know, there were some tough times and dark moments but by golly I wouldn’t write that year off for anything. Dotted throughout, and despite the dull and the dreadful, there were many, and I mean many, small, glimmering moments splattered throughout the year that made the whole bright and colourful and something to be appreciated.

I’m all for spontaneity and living in the moment but sometimes we need to plan our magic and our fun. Sounds technical and contrived doesn’t it? It’s not. Let me explain.

Last year, for the first time in many many years, I set myself a few fun goals to reach. A love list if you will. I wanted to walk the Six Foot Track ( a three-day hike in the Blue mountains), I wanted to go pistol shooting at a range and to see the turtles laying at Mon Repos beach.  I also decided to challenge myself to read  fifty books in the year and to take a photo a day and post it. I wasn’t sure if I would indeed complete these goals and the others on my list but it gave me something to work toward, it gave me a way to make life fun.

I’m proud to report that I actually finished 56 books. Their themes were many and varied. Some were fiction, others not. A few were plays. Many were purchased secondhand from op shops and charity bookstores, some were electronic downloads and a few were gifts.  As I look back over the list of titles I realise I was filled up by the wonder of words. I am still moved by them. I was sated by the magic and wisdom of their authors in bringing me these precious tomes. The echo of these books is within me.

Another action I committed to that bought me great joy was to take a photo a day for the year.  I won’t win any awards with my snaps, all taken on my phone, but the process of taking a photo of something that intrigued me, caught my eye or tickled my fancy and sharing it with friends, via social media, was fun. Now, after sifting through the 365 photos, I am delighted to see my year in pictures. There are themes that reflect my preferences and personality  and some images take me back to places I visited and special moments I enjoyed.  Snapping the beautiful, interesting and plain old quirky has become a habit and I find I’m still reaching to record my days.  Again, the echo and the imprint of those captured moments fills me with gratitude for my life.

A visual representation of some of my love list items for this year.

A visual representation of some of my love list items for this year.

This year I have again written a love list ( some of you might know it as a bucket list). Why? Because I want to fill my life with wonder and joy.  I want to remind myself that, while I might not be climbing Mt Everest or canoeing down the Amazon, while I’m not a famous or accomplished artist or an actor, or a public figure, that my life has meaning, that it’s special, that a life is made up of all the special, little moments as well as the once in a life time moments.  I want the echo of those moments to resonate in my heart, my mind and in my thoughts.  That echo will sustain me. It will motivate and inspire me.  And, thanks to a very thoughtful gift from my son, I plan to collect these moments of joy by recording them on little pieces of colourful and patterned paper and keeping them in a gratitude jar.  This time next year I will again be able to reflect on the magic of the year and be humbled and grateful for the majesty of life, my life.

My advice to myself this year is to – Feed and grow your own magic.

Happy New Year,
Shannyn

 

Celebrating life with a Love List. Do you have one?

Life isn’t a matter of milestones but of moments.
Rose Kennedy

Excited and full of anticipation.

Excited and full of anticipation.

I recently completed a three day hike. Not a long hike compared to others I’ve done, but it’s one I’ve long wanted to do.  When I first visited the Australian Blue Mountains, about ten years ago, and fell in love with the area I declared that one day I would walk the Six Foot Track.  The 45 kilometre walk is both incredibly scenic and historic. It was constructed in the 1880’s as a bridle track from Katoomba to the Jenolan Caves and it is indeed six foot wide to, originally, allow two laden horses to pass.

What’s this got do with a Love List?  Well, when I completed the walk I shared a photo of celebration with friends and commented that I’d ticked another item off my bucket list.  A wonderful friend of mine shared my delight and suggested that I call it a Love List instead of a bucket list.

“What a great idea” I thought.  A bucket list focuses on the inevitable end of one’s life (which is not in itself a bad thing of course but the connotations are somewhat negative and conjures a sense of quiet desperation) whereas a Love List encapsulates life and energy and the present. A Love List is more of a celebration of living rather than trying to beat the clock.  I like it!

I have a list of places to go, challenges to complete as well as fun activities I’d like to achieve sometime in the near future. From that larger list I created a smaller list to focus on this year. Reflecting on my 2014 Love List this Easter season I realise I have officially achieved several of those goals and I am delighted.  Many of the items on my list are small, fun things such as visit my Nana every three to four weeks, take a photo a day and practice yoga three times a week. Other items require a little more planning such as visit Mon Repos, near Bundaberg, to see the Turtles laying their eggs. Something I’ve been meaning to do since I lived there 20 odd years ago.

Completing the Six Foot Track walk was one of those larger items on my list.  As I was travelling back from the Jenolan Caves to Blackheath after the walk it hit me that I’d just met a long held dream.  I had actually completed something I’d spoken about for years. I realise it isn’t climbing Everest or finding a cure for cancer but this small achievement left me momentarily speechless and full of emotion. Now, I feel a great sense of satisfaction and I’m enjoying the warm after glow of achieving a dream.  I’m allowing myself time to savour the moment before deciding on the next “big” adventure I’ll manifest.

Satisfied and elated at having achieved a dream.

Satisfied and elated at having achieved a dream.

Having a Love List gives me something out of the ordinary to work toward, to look forward to and to dream about. It keeps me motivated, excited and full of anticipation.  It’s a way for me to celebrate life. Do you have Love List?  I’d like to hear one or two of the dreams you have on yours.

Committed to creating more life adventures,
Shannyn