Sunday, 25 September 2011

To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one's own in the midst of abundance. Buddha

This quote is such a beautiful reminder.  

When you've lived a life, never expecting abundance and serenity and bliss as a given. And when you have not coveted others' prosperity or serenity, what a gift it is to notice the moments of everyday abundance.

Abundance cannot be bought.

Abundance cannot be measured.

Abundance can only be experienced and felt in those gaps of unselfish living. 

Abundance may remain when those gaps grow into infinite oceans.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

A Public Apology to Twitter

Within a few minutes of my last blog post where I was (sort of) (tongue-in-cheek) hatin' on the tweeting big blue bird, I  connected with a writer/publisher on Twitter.  

"Take that!" the bird squawked.

Flash forward twelve hours and I am hanging up the phone after speaking with my Twitter contact on the telephone for two hours.  My new Twitter-friend happens to be a published author, with decades of experience negotiating the mine fields of pitching and publishing and happens to have a publishing company.  Our connection was immediate, and we talked a full hour before even discussing our writing.

By the end of the next hour, she was intrigued by my novel's concept and I decided I would revise on a deadline and submit to her.  I was intrigued by her enthusiasm, her knowledge base and the fact the universe had thrown us together.

That is how my life rolls.  Practicing intention (even when my intention had been to doubt Twitter), I continuously attempt to throw to the universe what it is I seek in my life, any given moment on any given day.  Four words always follow my intent: for the greater good.

I am writing my novel because I must.  It is impossible to not write my book.  My intention was only to write and to finish an interesting novel, but like all artists, it is a thrill to be read and appreciated.  Thrown into that intention was that it would be cool to get my work "out there" without impinging on the creative process (ie still giving me time to write).

Once again, I am in awe of how magic develops in the world around us.  

No, I don't know for certain that my book will ever be published, but in the meantime I have connected with a brilliant soul who has already mentored me invaluably, whether she realizes it or not.

And that my friends, is a Twitter success story.

I apologize big, blue Zombie bird.  There apparently is some magic behind the madness.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

I've Seen the Future and It's a Big Blue Tweeting Zombie Bird

Twitter Icon

Ok, so maybe I do think, errr, obsess too much.

It has been quite a while since I've sat at the computer for most of the day, hence it has been a long time since I have done much on Twitter.  For the most part I follow writers on Twitter.  By definition those writers apparently write, some are even published.  My quandary revolves around the fact that many of these writers Twitter like no other . . . as in they are in a near constant state of twittering.  How in the twit do they do it?

As the day wears on, I'm thinking . . . what was that little two inch square on the desktop that I can download and will give me a Twitter update so I won't have to keep going into the browser when I want to take a little Twitter-break?  I had it waaaay, back when. I search.  It was Twitter Deck.  I download it and it immediately morphed into this huge, tweeting mothership that encompasses the whole of my desk top.  There are several columns including one for my FaceBook updates if I want to add them.  Then the Tweet sounds start and there is distraction in the upper right corner of my screen with the latest Tweets flashing forth.

Literally within minutes of having TweetDeck loaded on my desk top my brain was spinning in information-overload.  My senses were overstimulated.  My attention span was (just stopped to look at a tweet that flashed up) challenged in the first couple of minutes (I began writing this within five of those minutes).

Then, at about that fifth minute, it happened.  (tweet about BBC homepage just flashed)  I had a view of what our species will be behaving like in twenty years.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?  Sheeeet.  You haven't seen anything yet.  (someone's blog noticed popped up)

People are focusing on so many things at (wow 99 cent deal on book popped up) one time that nothing is focused on, continuously, for any length of time.

We are already told our children's brains are developing differently than previous generations because of their use of electronics (someone just said they are in the middle of a Typhoon), but I'm telling you this . . . this that I am trying to do right now . . . write and not be distracted by the tweets is impossible(Jamaican drug lord pleads his case) (calling all authors). My brain's synapses are already dancing the samba in response to what I am asking it to do at the moment.

How could I do this all day and write?  Or work a job at a desk?  How can a I tweet and check my FaceBook and give either the attention that neither deserve?

But here is the scary part.  Forget the ever popular Zombies, although I now understand their popularity with the young adult scene BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT WE WILL EVOLVE INTO SOON; at this rate humans will be evolving into attention-deficted-socially-inept-walking-dead.

Think about it.  How many times have you run into one of your hundreds of FaceBook "friends" but don't feel close enough to go up to them and start a conversation?  At the same time, you might go "like" one of their comments later in the day.  With this virtual socializing we are losing the need to connect in person.  In fifty years there will be no face to face communication, just virtual zombies that pass each other silently to later "communicate" on one of their online social hubs.  In person socializing will be looked at as "too time consuming" or "too messy."  As it stands now most people don't even want to speak on the phone, preferring to text.  

(Of writing well the source and fountainhead is wise thinking.- Horace)  How the hell can I think or write with all of these beeps and messages? (3 more during the writing of the rest of this sentence)

Unsocialized zombie type people with ADHD.  That's where we are headed.  A Twitter imposed cyber Zombie apocalypse.  All thanks to online social networking.   (Tropical Storm Ophelia has formed over the Atlantic)

Does that mean I will stop the little bit of Tweeting I've engaged in entirely?  I doubt it.  Does that mean I will mute and hide (depressed or anxious?) Tweet Deck?  No doubt about it.

(Iran will released the jailed hitchhikers on Wednesday!)

(what do people feel as the world crumbles around them?) Seriously, how can I concentrate after reading that Tweet?

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

A small un-alphabetized glossary of naïve observations of the Northland, New Zealand—thus far

Fish.  Big fish.  BIG fish that can be caught from the coast line.

Seafood.  Yummy fresh seafood at even the small local grocer.  Cheap.  For when you don’t catch fish.

Sweet as.  Common slang- right on.  Awesome.  Commonly morphed into- cool as or during the complaints of the “frigid winters,” cold as.

Good on ya.  Common slang for “way to go.”

Bare feet.  Everywhere.  Kids all year.  Adults can be all year but typically more seasonal.  Sweet as.

Crackdowns.  Low tolerance for drinking and driving, drug offenses, crime, but a few of the locals vocalize that the penalties could be more harsh.  Overall, comparatively, there is a great sense of safety for our children.

Family-friendly activities.  There is no shortage of activities of all kinds going on for children and families, especially for what the locals perceive as a relatively rural area.  Markets are many and frequent and their focus varies—produce, art, craft, ethnic food, etc.  The arts and music are respected and opportunities for all are many.

Education. NZ ranks 7th in the world.  US 17th. UK 25th. Our 7 year old is making great strides in the short time he has been here and having great fun while doing so and we love the style, size and overall approach to learning thus far.

Libraries. The social hub of our community.  Great gathering spot, bistro, and oh yeah, place to check out books, movies, music and periodicals.

Coffee. The best we have had in many countries.  Bar none.  It all starts with the espresso.

Auckland. Beautiful city.  Almost half the population of NZ reside there.  Thus a very small country’s terrain appears extremely spacious.

Autos.  Non-pretentious. 

Laundry. Dries outside not insideWith a prevailing sense of taking care with the planet . . . and saving money on energy costs . . . it is the norm to hang out your laundry.  All year long.

Lambs.   Most know of my obsession with the the birthing of lambs surrounding us.  Apparently it isn’t just me.  There will be a farm day coming up where all school children will be able to bring and show off their baby . . . lambs.

Chooks.  This is NZ for chickens.  It is fairly common to have their own and supply themselves with eggs.  Beautiful pastel, yummy eggs.

Possums.  This isn’t America’s opossum but a cute, variety that is loathed in NZ because of it’s decimation of local birds.  And the fact it was brought over from Australia.

Animals. Interesting fact.  There are no animals native to NZ.  Just birds, which is why the national bird, Kiwi bird, is so adored.  He is a flightless bird that Kiwis will go to extraordinary lengths to protect. And he hasn’t even learned to say Thank You.

Dogs.  Even though it appears that virtually every Pakeha (white person) you meet is from the UK where dogs rate higher than humans, dogs are just not welcomed here.  Why?  The Kiwi bird.  The whole flightless bird thing means they live on the ground, lay on the ground and apparently can be great fodder for canines. 

Treks. AKA hikes.  There is amazingly gorgeous hiking opportunities at every turn and it is a common past time here.

Parks.  Validating the love of the great outdoors, there are phenomenal parks and reserves everywhere, many with great trekking opportunities.

Land and Sea. Great respect and focus on both.  Living off the land, respecting the land, combing the land, lazing on beaches, surfing, kayaking, sailing the sea, fishing the sea, diving the sea, in awe of the sea.

HAKA!  We LOVE the Haka and I don’t think it is a newcomer affliction.  NZ and the varying Iwi (Maori tribes) are extremely proud of them as well they should be.  Our kids learn and perform them in schools.  And of course they start every All Blacks game.  Google and observe if you aren’t familiar with the Haka.

Rugby.  All Blacks. ‘Nuff said.

Beetroot. Sliced pickled beets come on burgers in NZ.  Who would’ve thought?  Yummy.

Artists.  Amazing and everywhere.

Buskers.  Rampant for a city of 54,000

Alternative healers.  The norm, many and utilized frequently. Not so "alternative" here.

Gum Boots.  Just after catching on to calling them Wellies, a new name emerges.  They are waterproof boots good for rain and mud and named after them being worn in the gum fields.

Secondary roads. Stay off them, unless you have extra hours to kill.  And a death wish (especially if it rains).  Spoken from experience.

Community.  This small country’s schools, towns, and varying subgroups have an overarching theme of bonded community.  It is palpable.  And very pleasant.

Kindness.  I had read somewhere that Kiwis were not always extremely welcoming.  Au contraire.  We have found them to be extremely outgoing, kind, curious and helpful and have already made some amazing friends.

Postoffice. I mean, Bank.  I mean . . .   Kiwis use online banking even more than my online bank loving husband used it in the states.  Therefore the banks consist of little shops in plazas that consist of a combined post office and bank to make better use of resources. Quaint.Efficient.

Mail people. Ride bikes with baskets.  Quaint.  Efficient.

Gas. By US standards extremely expensive.  Around $8/gal.

Tobacco.  How to cut down on smoking?  Charge $17/pack of cigs.  No lie.

Meals out. Appear more expensive but actually include tax and tip so it evens out.  Yes you heard it right.  Restaurant staff actually earn a living wage so they don’t have to exist on tips.

Tips.  Not the norm.  I continue to ask, and am amazed to be turned down.

Minimum wage.  $13/hour

Housing prices.  Rent is paid weekly and seems relatively expensive to me, but you don’t hear lots of complaints.  The only thing I can figure out is that with the higher minimum wage, folks graduate to pay that actually may be sufficient to pay their bills.  Just a guess.

Climate. It is so interesting how relative climate is. I have now been here for the end of autumn, winter and the beginning of spring.  Many winter days it was colder in our house than outside since we only have a woodburner for heat and insulation isn’t a priority in the winterless north.  BUT, winter banter is just like in the dead of winter in the US.  Zoom to: it’s 50 degrees outside with a little wind. You approach a check out counter somewhere.  Check out person: Wow, it is really freezing out today isn’t it?  You: (laughing)  Uhm, not too bad.  If this is winter, bring it on.  Check out person: You’re not from these parts are you?    Word on the street is by next year, after a glorious summer, we will be joining ranks of the weather whiners.

Spirituality. There is a strong overriding spirituality consisting of connection with the earth, the rest of the earth’s occupants and nature, no matter what religious beliefs people hold.  That connection seems to go far in acceptance.  Amen.

Beauty.  Everywhere

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

A Day You Won't Regret

Most of us are pros at the futile exercise of self-punishment for the things we feel we should have accomplished in a day but did not.

Think about it for a moment.  How often do "shoulds" take possession of your obsessions?  

After years of working intimately with folks who struggle with the havoc their thoughts wreak with their psyche and their health I can probably answer that question better that you: a lot.  If you want to know your definitive answer, start noticing; you will be surprised.

The problem with recurring thinking about all the items we did NOT check off of our to do list is that we spend far too much time putting out negative energy surrounding ourselves and our abilities.  And negativity begets negativity.  In other words, with the amount of negative judgment you are feeding to yourself it becomes a simple cycle of negativity surrounding our self-expectation; a situation that is NOT conducive to our best performance, work output or overall sense of well being.  In fact, we innately begin to expect that we will not accomplish what we would like to with our day.

Some of us therapy-types like to tell folks, "stop 'shoulding' on yourself."  It usually gets a laugh, but it is easier said than done.  Here are a few techniques to set your day into a positive pattern so that you can handle the inevitable disruptions without seeing yourself as a failure if you do not follow your plan.

First on your list- expect the unexpected.  Write it down if you need to.  To think that we actually have "control" is a set up for failure from the start.  Allow for time in every day to NOT go as planned.  Expect that there may be a call from a client canceling or that you will have to go to pick up your child from school or that the dog ralphed all over the kitchen floor during the night.  Just this mind-switch, this expectation of unpredictability will go far in aiding you to become more at peace with your daily schedule.

Think about what you CAN control in your day. Yourself and only yourself.  

Start your days with rituals that take care of yourself that you enjoy and will look forward to doing.  Maybe it is setting your alarm ten minutes early for some centering breathing exercises using a positive mantra.  Maybe it is a full-blown thirty minute meditation session.  Maybe it's writing for 20 minutes. Maybe it is having time to read your book or your newspaper before you start your day or just to sit down quietly with your cup of tea or coffee.  Maybe it is your morning workout routine.  Maybe it is one of these things each day. Start your day by paying yourself first and then acknowledge that you did so.  Feel the sense of ease it gives you to take care of yourself. 

Yeah right, but I have the kids running around or a new born or puppies or  . . .   Think about how you can work that bit of centering time for yourself into your life.  Process it the night before and discuss it with those in your household, if need be, to make a plan.  Maybe your self-time needs to be after you have left the house.  Think about it as if your boss or client was telling you to make it happen.  Then make it happen.

Regarding your "list of things to do."  Have an overall list of tasks that you'd like to get accomplished- short term goals, long term goals and the tasks that it takes to achieve those goals for home and work and your personal life.  But at the end of the each day think about the next day and what is really happening in your home, work and personal life and be realistic about what you can accomplish the next day.  Set fewer concrete goals than you think you can achieve, setting yourself up for success instead of failure.

Schedule time off.  Have a day a week of respite.  A day to take things as they come.  A day to be IN the moment, not chasing the task.  A day, you laugh.  Okay, half a day.  A few hours.  (stop arguing the impossibility and put that energy into making it work for you)

Why do I write this now?  I have my book back from an editor begging to be jumped back into, our semi and half worth of items arrived from the US, I was gifted with a horse, I started a new gig . . .  I could beat myself up every day that I haven't gotten back into my book yet, but you know what?  I could have written my book in a few weeks if all the lengthy sessions I poured into it were done consecutively.  That's how I work best.  So I refuse to do the daily "you should be working on your book, when are you going to work on your book," because I know, unequivocally, that when I pick it up I will work and work and work on it until it is exactly like I want it.  I will do that better if I do not have boxes surrounding me, if I can feel order around me I can work in a more orderly fashion.  It's coming . . . we are about sorted out and I can't wait. 

Anticipation of doing is a much better feeling to have than self-loathing at what hasn't been done and is infinitely more effective in aiding productivity.