Wednesday, February 23, 2011
So mid week of my program in Kenya. As always with these programs the first few days are tough. New people, building trust and relationships and a lot of energy going into making the program a successful experience for all involved. As the week being away from Bec and the kids I am finding really challenging and the longer I am away for the harder it gets. I am always pretty emotional and find it difficult to even think of home and Bec and the kids.
I have kept up with most of my commitments as part of my 21 day challenge. I am up at 5am every morning, trying to meditate on the rose, reading my positive affirmations, meditating on my Dharma, running every morning, eating live foods, reading each day and reflecting each day.For the most part I have done pretty well. Interestingly though the further away from my visit to the kids in Emali the less energy I have, not quite sure what that means for me but there is something in this that I need to think about. I am so alive when I am with the kids and visiting these projects.
Today was a pretty amazing day. I built a new day within our program and tried something new and it really hit the mark. It was a long and very productive day that ended with each of our group having watched a series of inspirational speeches on the web then presenting a 2 minute talk back to the group. Wow, it was amazing, many of the most inspirational and heartfelt talks I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Needless to say that I was a complete mess by the end of it, the emotion is never far away from the surface for me. Maggie would have given me a very hard time! I won't share the stories on the blog as that wouldn't be appropriate but just to say that they were completely amazing and I feel humbled, honoured and privileged that people would share these stories with me. There are days I just love my job!
Well time to hit the sack, long and emotional day. Thinking of all of my family and can't wait to see everyone!
Saturday, February 19, 2011
This morning though I was struggling a bit but sought to just focus on my breathing and did okay. I rolled over and grabbed my phone to check the time and saw the time and literally jumped out of bed. Up until last night for some reason my phone had set itself to an hour past the actual time, so 6am was actually 5am, I am sure you get the picture. Anyway this morning my phone said 5.59am and I thought great 5am. i had just realised that I had slept in, and jumped to action. My morning ritual includes running as the sun comes up, I pulled back the blind and it was very light outside, grabbed my gear and headed out to the park for my morning run somewhat disappointed in myself this morning. I did however treat myself with some compassion and saw it as all part of the journey as well as blaming it at least partly on the jetlag finally kicking in.
The spirit of physicality is so important to me. When I don't have it my mind takes over and this is never good for me. Physical activity generates for me so many positive thoughts and is for me the most powerful form of meditation. It is the part of the 21 day challenge that is working incredibly well. As I reflect on the first 3 days I think there are already some major changes I can feel. When I was talking with Di on Day 1 and sharing with her what this all meant for me from a work perspective the energy was pouring out of me, I felt like I was floating with raw energy just bursting out of me, it was very cool. I am starting to get my stomach back, which had deserted me for the past couple of months, which is always a good sign for me. I am certainly living more in each moment and yesterday was testament to that. Whilst on the drive I did feel like i was going to struggle to become more radiant thinking back to some real challenges I will face when i return home, however once I arrived and was with the staff and kids of Emali radiant living just burst back through. I was able though to savour the moment and each moment as they happened. This is not like me, usually I am on to the next thing, but yesterday I just took it all in, took my time, thanked the universe for this very precious gift and the opportunity to serve and enjoyed every minute. I stopped myself in the moment, looked into the eyes of the kids, made an effort to be very present with everyone I was talking with, it felt great.
I also see little things changing like my demeanour with people. The pushy Indian man at the baggage rack who came and stood right in front of me, I would normally have interjected and almost pushed him out the way, this time I checked myself, felt the frustration, allowed it to pass and when my bag came calmly said excuse me and off I went. I made an effort yesterday to go in and shake the hand of the omelette chef who cooked my omelette. He was very chuffed and I walked out with almost a tear in my eye because this is something I would rarely do, I would think it but then get too embarrassed or find an excuse not to do it, it felt great. I am making more of an effort to sit in the moment with people and focus on them, be they the waiter, the colleague I am coaching or anyone I am meeting with. I am also trying to not judge or critique people and their behaviour. This one is proving challenging because my first instinct is to review behaviour of others against my values to determine what I feel about this and ultimately them. It is how I am programmed and I am now trying to reprogamme myself. I am doing ok but there is definitely still room for improvement.
Of most importance is my efforts to control my mind. My mind has always been a very complex, serious and even at times dark place where I spend most of my time. It is never silent and always processing. Over the past 5 years or so I have found the more difficult events and issues that I have faced have resulted in my mind becoming a predominantly negative force where I spend hours relentlessly reviewing past events or rehearsing conflict situations that could present in my life due to the poor relationships I might have with certain people. It is absolutely exhausting and is the critical element to a radiant life for me. Cultivating a garden in my mind that is filled with beautiful flowers and sunlight and opportunity. Taking back control of those 60,000 thoughts I have every day and use them to focus on my dharma, moving towards my lighthouse of purpose. It is only day 3 but I cannot tell you how much more energy this gives me, a lightness a feeling of great power. To spend hours every day thinking about Bec, the kids my family and also the kids I want to make life better for is a very powerful force and just so positive.
I often think of a scene in the movie 'coach carter' when the coach keeps asking one of his troubled players what his greatest fear is. The player who is the tough kid from a gang involved in crime and the like just doesn't get it and this keeps going on with the coach asking and the player responding with increasing frustration. At the end of the movie when the player has taken control of his life and turned his back on gang life etc the coach asks once more 'what is your greatest fear?' The player responds this time and recites our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, our greatest fear is that we are powerful beyond all measure (etc etc. you may know the poem from which this comes) and I see this in me now. I am powerful beyond all measure but have not been tapping into that power. I have been restricting my power by allowing my mind to run free and build in toxins that were killing my energy. There were a couple of moments yesterday sitting in the car where I questioned my ability to see this new life through, the old me starting coming back into focus and it literally felt like I put on this incredibly heavy jacket with chains coming off it and the chains were connected to cement blocks. This morning my meditation when I was running was seeing myself moving forward out of the jacket and leaving it behind me, it was very empowering, I could physically feel this happening. I guess this is all my way of knowing that my old approach to life was only 3 days ago and this new way of living will take commitment, discipline and willpower, this is at the heart of the challenge.
I see this as unleashing myself. Being able to talk with Bec and my family like I talk in my head. I have so much more colour, definition and purpose in my head than when it comes out my mouth. I think about the conversation we all had at the mill about the India walk and I was so reserved, contained and even withdrawn. When really when I think about the walk my whole mind fills with colour and purpose, i want to get that out for others, particularly Bec to see and experience. I am sure that i will be a much more enjoyable person to be around as well as bring out in others some very positive responses. I can't wait, somewhat nervous but very excited.
Our very trusty driver Job did an awesome job despite the traffic jams. The travel by car took me back to my days travelling by bus in India. Two lanes head to head with constant overtaking at speed, very anxiety provoking and certainly put my newfound calmness to the test.
Many a sight and sound along the drive. The further we went the drier the landscape seemed to become. The strange sight of new housing development in the middle of a large field, followed over the next rise by a shanty and then over the next rise another new housing development. As we close in on our destination the increasing level of drought and poverty become clearer to see. We arrive in Emali, our poor hosts having waited for us for many hours to arrive were as always incredibly gracious. We had a quick introduction of our party and also the many staff who were joining us from the local office. The staff had arranged for some tree seedlings to be ready to be planted by each of us and alongside the tree was a pre-made sign with each of our individual names on it, quite an experience.
We headed out from the office and firstly visited a new zealand funded project in a nearby village where they have built a small dam that has enabled the village to be able to access water year around for crops. This has been an incredibly important asset which now enables crops to be grown where previously they couldn't. It was amazing to stand and listen to one of the local farmers discuss how the plots work and also to see the various crops including tomatoes, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, papaya and a few others that i couldn't remember. On the way back to the car I had a lovely chat to a couple of the older female farmers, very friendly and loving ladies who I enjoyed talking with. Also on the way back to the cars we had our first encounter with the local village kids. These beautiful kids came from everywhere and were just so incredible to spend some time with. We got some lovely photos and had some nice time chatting with the kids. As we headed back to the car they all headed back to their huts. It looked like about 12 kids headed to one of the small huts, the living conditions you never quite get used to seeing or can quite comprehend what it must be like to live in. The kids as always are happy and playful and great to spend time with, a;ways a highlight for me. Gives me a very strong sense of what it will be like in India and how good it will be to have the time just to stop and be with the kids and families we meet.
Our next and final stop (we had to cut our day short given we arrived about 4 hours late) was to a newly built and small school called Kimbingo. It is a school for under 5's and there were just kids everywhere. As we pulled up there was just the most incredible cheering and screaming, the kids were very excited. We were able to spend the next half an hour or so just hanging out together, taking photos, showing them their photos on the camera, showing them photos of Gus which they enjoyed seeing. A couple of beautiful songs, another very nice tree planting ceremony and lots of handshakes and laughs and we were having to head off. It became evident though that the newly built school did not have any toys or furniture and according to the staff required support to fund this. It became obvious we had found our next project and i am excited about our ability as a family to provide this funding for the school. On a larger scale they actually have 17 new schools many of which lack the equipment they require, i am investigating the scope and scale of the project. There is no doubt once you look into the eyes of these children you are committed, no if buts or maybes. I would have loved to have had Bec and the kids there, they would have loved it. It turns out we are not far from Mount Kilimanjaro which we could climb on our next visit if we want to! Anyway we had to say our goodbyes, a brief yet impactful visit and one which is sure to prove the catalyst for a longer term relationship.
So we head off on our way back to the hotel, hoping ofcourse for no more traffic jams. We are driving along and there is a sign on the side of the road which says look out for Giraffes, you can't be serious. I guess it is the same reaction tourists must have in Australia where they see the signs for kangaroos and koalas. We cruise along the highway, the sun is starting to set in the background over the flat grasslands and next minute a herd of about 8-9 giraffes only about 50 metres off the road are walking by. Our driver pulls up and out we jump to take as many photos as possible, what an experience, there right in front of us a herd of giraffes just walking along. A little further down the road a larger herd this time probably about 15-20 giraffes just off the road, unbelievable. A little further down the road again and this time a large herd of zebras and then just to finish things off a herd of small gazelle like animals, not sure if they are caribou or something, the boys in the car called them dik dik I think. Do you think I wasn't pinching myself at the afternoon i had just experienced. Well worth the 8 hours of driving!
Well its been a long day and it is past my bed time, given I have a 5am start in the morning. I go to bed missing my guys and wish they were here to enjoy this with me as we usually do. The adventures continue.....
Friday, February 18, 2011
So here I am sitting in a Nairobi hotel room blogging. The plane trip over was quite exhilarating for me. I was able for the first time in a while to catch my breath and revisit what is most important. Through a 36 hour journey it provided just the space I needed to refocus my energies and my life. I read this awesome book the Monk who sold his ferrari and it was like a gift in the way that it set out for me just what I needed to do next. It is all about controlling my destiny, ironically what I spend every day telling the people I coach, why wasn't I listening! Well I was I just didn't know how to take the next step. Within this book there are some beautiful and inspiring quotes that touched deep inside me and revived my spirit for living an authentic life. I once drew a picture of me as a man in a glass cube with wings screaming to people outside the cube to let me out, to let them know I was here but they couldn't hear me. What I didn't know at the time was that I had the key I just had to look inside to find it. The key was me, my self awareness, my vision, my purpose and my passion. I knew who I wanted to be and how I wanted to be I just had to find the courage to stand up and be me, face my fears and live my life.
Over the past 5-6 years particularly, Bec my soul mate and I have been on an incredible journey exploring our selves. I know it sounds a little selfish and it could well be argued that it is but I have grown to understand that unless you truly love yourself you can not truly love others. You cannot live an authentic life, you cannot live to your Dharma. Whilst I was happy with the family i was a part of, happy with the things we had, happy generally with the life we led, I was far from loving myself. In essence I could not kid myself any longer about how I was living my life versus the potential my life could be. It is all in degrees though. My life is in far better shape than it was, we have made some significant inroads to creating the life we want but there was another level we or I had to go to. The past 48 hours have realised an awakening of my spirit and I feel incredibly rejuvenated.
i read that the average person has 60,000 thoughts per day. I reflected that of those thoughts when times have been particularly difficult I would have wasted a large majority of these on negative thinking. I just couldn't help myself it was like a groundhog day in my head from the moment I awoke to the moment I went to bed and even in my dreams. Relationship issues, family issues, work issues, stress, worry and anxiety were a big part of my mind. If my mind was a garden mine was being overgrown with toxic weeds and I was letting it happen. I needed to start turning my attention to my purpose, not my past.
My authentic life, my lighthouse, my Dharma or purpose is about;
Being present, fun and free with my kids,
Being within a loving intimate marriage,
Selflessly serving kids,
Enabling others to reach their full potential,
Supporting and loving my family -
this is what my 60,000 thoughts should be focused on. Within this I want to create a level of boundless positive energy, valuing every precious moment, being physically capable to meet any opportunity, breathing deeply, expanding my mind through knowledge and experience and importantly laughing, talking and dancing (being free to be me). Don't think the last one, the dancing doesn't terrify me!
As part of this journey I am committing to the 10 rituals of radiant living, or at least my version of these. They include The rituals of;
Solitude (meditating every day, training my mind, cultivating my garden)
Physicality (exercising every day)
Live Nourishment (eating more live foods - vegetables and fruit)
Abundant Knowledge (reading and learning)
Personal Reflection (stopping and reflecting ever day)
Early awakening (up at 5am with the sun)
Music (listening to inspiring, relaxing music)
Spoken Word (positive affirmations aligning to my dharma)
Congruent character (living aligned to my principles and character)
Simplicity (living more simply).
For the next 21 days this is my commitment to lay the foundation for a radiant life, to be grateful for all the wonderful gifts my life has given me and to control my own destiny, reach my potential and live to my purpose.Two days in and the energy I feel is like nothing I have felt outside of an event. it is congruent with how I feel when I am in India, or having a great time with my kids, or selflessly serving others but I have previously struggled to integrate it into my everyday life. So far so good.
Today represents another challenge and opportunity. Today I go and visit some villages and local projects around kids. In the past I have always found this quite overwhelming and it has sent me spiralling into a pit of disbelief about how the world is the way it is. My challenge today is to stay above this personal and subjective reaction and to stay in the moment. To rise above the personal challenge and to draw upon my skills and experience to find the opportunity to live my purpose and make a difference in whatever way that I can. I will let you know how I get on.
As a final word I want to say thankyou to my beautiful teachers, my kids and Bec. Everyday my children send me lessons and everyday I am grateful for them. When I say my purpose is to selflessly serve children, it starts with my children and then others. They are the wonder of my world. Finally to my Yogi Bec, my wise and special friend. You have for so long been sharing with me your deep wisdom and insight and you have been standing in my lighthouse showing me the way. You are wise beyond your years and I am so thankful to have you by my side showing me the way, thankyou.
Friday, February 4, 2011
We have created our "Project Team" and have begun our planning and brainstorming sessions. As you can appreciate, there is a tonne of work to be done in terms of marketing, advertising and promoting our event and our cause so this year is shaping up to be a Big one! So stay tuned, the countdown to "Coast to Coast... a walk for the kids" is underway!
Friday, July 30, 2010
So here we are, several weeks back into normal life and reflecting back on what the past 7 months have been about for our family. For many years I fantasised about a trip where we just jumped in the car and took off, leaving our cares behind us and only the road and great beaches ahead. Was it all worth it, would we do it again? You bet we would, in a heart beat! As a father, whilst I have probably spent more time than most with my kids and Bec I still hadn't had that 24/7 opportunity to just be there for an extended period of time. This was the highlight for me. Every morning just waking up with my family, no real plans for the day, starting with cuppas on the beach, watching Gus run free along the water's edge, exploring with the girls, having quality time all together. It really doesn't get any better than that. Truth be told we could have been anywhere but the scenery just added to the magic of it all. We have always been a close family, gee for years we all slept in the same room, single mattresses on the floor next to our bed, but this trip somehow brought us even closer together. You get an opportunity to see your kids differently when you have that much time together, you get to know them better, understand the intricacies of their personality and build even stronger relationships. For Bec and I we have had some challenging times that we have lived through in the past so for us to have this time, with no real hassles, just an opportunity to be with our kids, creating a loving environment for us all to share it was pretty special.
Favourite memories, every day really, how do you pick. It wasn't so much the big days like seeing the great barrier reef or doing the sky train in Cairns, it was probably more the quiet days, exploring depot beach, exploring Pambula river mouth, walking along one mile beach at sunrise, nights in the camper watching episodes of seachange, cooking our favourite prawn and fresh pea risotto with a glass of shaw & smith sav blanc, while the kids ran around the park. This being like groundhog day for us and was just so satisfying and ofcourse incredibly enjoyable. This after the challenges of East Timor, the cultural journey in Thailand and the life changing experience of our second home in India. There are days when I have to pinch myself that we have actually done all of this.
For me having had an incredibly busy 10 years, well 20 years really, to have this time with really not much to occupy my mind was very stimulating. There were so many ideas, reflections, dreams and possibilities that came flooding in and out of my thoughts. For many weeks I let them come and go and despite feeling a little pressure to record them I just sat with them for a time. Toward the end of the trip I found the motivation to sit down and write. I wrote about what I felt I had done with my life to date and what I still want to achieve. I wrote about what I stand for, which for me is a big thing because I have spent the past several years just trying to escape the conflict we had been experiencing and now finding that spirit to want to stand up again and fight for what I believe in, was incredibly liberating. I was able to capture a vision for what would make my life ideal, listen to Bec's thoughts about the same for her and see how our vision for the future was now so well aligned.
On a practical level I was able to finalise a draft strategic plan for my business which has provided me with a sense of purpose about my work. Interestingly I have been without business cards for about 5 years, not sure if this was my own passive aggressive resistence to my work or what it was but I return with new cards and a new plan and the energy to put it into place. Whilst in many ways I have been very successful at what I do, there has always been a sense of a lack of confidence, or a lack of belief in my ability to meet the constant needs of the people I was working with and due to my energy being very low I just couldn't chart a course out of the mire I had entered. It has been a bit of a Tom Cruise Mission Statement moment, about less clients and more attention, less work and more learning, less quantity and higher quality.
I read in a book that Bec had purchased about the power of meditating on your death. Sounds dark, but not really. It encouraged me to think about dying and what it was that was important, what I had done, what was it that really mattered and what was it that would matter in that moment of death. For so long I have been terrified of the thought of dying, of a life that never quite reached its potential and the decisions I had regretted and the time wasted and not well spent. It was so compelling for me to be able to put myself in that space and feel like I had in recent times made some really big and important decisions, felt really comfortable with where our lives were at, comforted by the time I have spent with Bec and my kids and knowing they are well on their way to growing up to be happy and confident and feel like we have been able to leave a legacy that will live on well beyond our time. For the first time in my life I felt completely at ease in who I am and where my life has come. Now don't for a minute think this means I am going anywhere because now that life has purpose, pleasure and is incredibly enjoyable I just want to revel in being happy. It is so great to feel genuinely happy. To be so in love with my wife, to be so connected with my three beautiful kids and to feel a real sense of meaning in our lives. My relationship with important people like my mum and my sister are very close and becoming closer and to feel so comfortable with these relationships is like a chapter in my life that is very important to me and is now giving me so much pleasure.
Today I went to India's assembly at school. She was invited to give a talk to the whole junior school on her trip overseas. There she was our little moochie, up the front microphone in hand, confidently sharing her experiences of India, the orphanage and what we were doing to help. You know when I was 11 I never would have been in a position to do what Indy did today, she was amazing. Since we have been back we have had a number of people come up and tell us how great our kids are, how easy they are to talk to and how knowledgeable they are and it just makes Bec and I feel great to see our kids so happy and confident in who they are and what they have experienced. The other day I put our photos on a revolving slideshow on my laptop and it was amazing to just watch photo after photo come up and reveal another page in our life story and the experiences we have shared together. There is no doubt that over the past couple of years we have truly committed to the spirit of adventure and whilst it has had its moments of worry it has created a wonderful environment of learning and experience for our family. To do this together has been priceless. I am incredibly proud of my family, my wonderful wife, Bec, my deep thinking oldest girl Indy, my special fun middle one Maggie and our little man of the house, Gus.
It seems like only yesterday Bec and I watched Julie and Julia and got inspired to start our blog just days before we headed off overseas. I think this has provided a great way to keep in touch with friends and family but also will provide an incredible keepsake for our family to look back on for years to come. I have enjoyed the challenges of putting my deepest thoughts and feelings on a page and whilst in some regard it is quite indulgent and perhaps even narcissistic, it has been very therapeutic and liberating. For those of you who have shared this journey with us, thankyou for listening, thankyou for your very kind words of encouragement that enabled me to be very honest and feel safe to write from the heart.
Our spirit of adventure trip may have ended but in many ways our life has entered the next chapter, what it has in store for us only time will tell but whatever it is we will face it together and seek to enjoy every minute.
Monday, July 19, 2010
We are certainly not in Cairnsas any more Toto! Yes we have moved from the tropical weather of the north to now be experiencing -4 degrees in sunny Canberra. Our little heaters have been working overtime and we are using every spare bit of clothing and all of our rugs in an attempt to keep the icicles at bay. We have also been a little slack at our blog postings and have to admit we are on our way home mentally and soon to be physically. We have decided to push home a few days earlier to enable me to prepare for a return to work and also to finalise the renovations on our home. Last time I wrote we were in the gold coast awaiting the arrival of the Harry clan. It was fantastic to have some time with Kate and Matty and the kids. The cousins were all so excited to see each other, they had been counting down the hours until they arrived. We all spent the first two nights together in the camper which was very cosy but also a lot of fun. I imagine the kids will have great memories of bunking down together in the cammie. The kids went with Kate and Bec to dreamworld and whitewater world and had an absolute blast. The weather was a little cool for the waterslides but the rest was great. Indy our resident adrenaline junkie showed her courage yet again with two rides on the rollercoaster and even Maggie had a go second time around. Bec had to go on first time around and is still putting her vital organs back into place even now after two loop the loops! After our second day on the goldy it was time to head to Byron where we stayed in a beautiful home in Tallows right on the beach. The kids had an awesome time and loved the space of a large home to explore. Gus just kept running around in circles in the lounge room again and again, it was like a wild caged animal that had been let loose for the first time. The beach was incredible and just a short walk out of the back yard. We had a bonfire on the beach the first night and then the kids made this huge cubby house on the beach the next day which stood there until we left, much to the annoyance of a few of the Byron locals! My little nephew Maxie showed he is our very own Bear Grills. We had some great activities for the kids on the beach and also in Byron itself, it was a great time all around.
We left Byron and the cousins struggled with their goodbyes. We initially headed for one mile beach, about four hours away but as we took the turn off realised it was an 80km round loop of our route and decided to push forward towards Canberra. On the way it started to get dark early and the weather was coming in so at the last minute we decided we would stop at a place called Norah Heads. We drove in the park ready to set up and noticed we were on a boggy grass site that just wasn't going to work for us. So we stood there in the lightly drizzling rain, darkness approaching very quickly and pondered our options. Well not really, I said "we're not staying here" and got in the car ready to drive off, Bec just kind of stood there trying to process our options. So we were in the car again, after about 7 hours of driving and heading in the general direction of Canberra with the rain coming in heavier and approaching Sydney's peak hour traffic, only we could put ourselves in this position. We were well on our way to Canberra when we realised that the parks may not allow us to check in after dark and sure enough a couple of quick phone calls confirmed there was no check in options available to us in Canberra. In desperation Bec pleaded with one of the parks for some guidance and they suggested we bunk in at Goulbourn for the night. Good old '1234' and we were connected with a Best Western that had one family room available for the night and plenty of parking space for cammie. Do you think we were all happy to arrive and just be able to put the kettle on, have a hot shower and get in to bed after 10 and a half hours of driving! And that's what we did. Next morning we had a very short 40 minute drive to Canberra and proceeded to try to find a decent park. After about the fifth park we drove into we realised that this was an impossible task and we settled for what resembled an old drive in movie theatre, the Canberra motorhome park.
Canberra has been really great and we have had fun filled days packed with various iconic venues and experiences. Over a few days we visited the National Gallery, the national portrait gallery, the war museum, questacon, parliament house, the royal mint and frequented many nice eating places. Canberra is an awesome city to take the kids and for the most part these amazing attractions were free, a very different story to our experience up North. We caught up with the Wade family (Bec's cousin and her family) which was fantastic and the kids loved playing with the big kids. We decided to push straight for home, shave a couple of days off our trip and get ourselves organised for the challenges ahead assimilating back to 'normal' life.