Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wow what a day!


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

21 Day Challenge - Day 3

I am not sure how you top Day 2 so I have scheduled today as somewhat of a rest day. Rest days are also good days for reflection and fine tuning and I think this will be important as I progress to a more radiant life. I awoke this morning at 3am again, rolled over and tried to quieten my mind and get back to sleep which i eventually did. I awoke at 4.59am a little tired I have to admit from yesterday's adventure. Not to mention a little sore with my internal organs having been rearranged by driving for most of the day on very rocky roads which also saw me carrying a very full bladder the whole day, it was quite a physical experience. I am not sure how well my darling wife would have gone with her pea size bladder and Popsy would have definitely struggled with his kidneys. So I awoke to my now daily ritual of meditating on the heart of the rose, by chance there are fresh roses in my room (Bec would say that is a sign!) and so i meditate by trying to calm my mind and just focus on the natural beauty of the rose. Needless to say that I am not all that successful at this activity but everything takes time. After what seems like an eternity which is probably more like 3-4 minutes I put the rose back and begin meditating on my breathing. Again just trying to calm my mind and allow only positive thoughts in but let them pass through rather than attach. On Day 1 when I did this exercise an image came into my head. It was so clear. I was back in my living room with Bec and the kids and we were all dancing. I could hear the music, each of us were doing our own moves and I was too. Tears started rolling down my cheeks, it was a very powerful moment for me and it was so visually clear in my head. I was able to just sit in the moment looking around the room at Bec and then each of the kids. Indy with her groovy dancing, Maggie wiggling her little Razzie but and Gussy the star of the show doing his crazy moves. Big mama was clapping and clicking and I was just dancing with no level of being self conscious, it was very moving. It reminded me of the episode I had when I did the journey counselling session with Jan, where I apparently went into and then out of the 'hole' it was very powerful.
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.

What a Day in Kenya!

Well I have just got back from our day trip to day that left at 9am and it is now nearly 9pm. What was originally planned to be a 2 hour drive to the field to visit some projects ended up being a 6 hour ordeal. Firstly it took nearly an hour to get going from the hotel then we hit the traffic jam of all traffic jams and despite our guides best efforts to try alternative routes we just weren't getting anywhere. So the drive that should have taken about 2 hours ended up taking about 5 hours, much of which was spent sitting in gridlock. I have seen traffic in India and Thailand but nothing like this it was absolute gridlock, just miles and miles of cars, trucks and buses just sitting there going nowhere. Meanwhile the man pulling along his trailer by hand who we passed half an hour ago just walks by and gives us a rye smile. You have to laugh sometimes at just how surreal life can be. Here I am sitting in a car in Kenya with all the surrounds that you can expect and on the radio I am being serenaded by Sexual Healing by Marvin Gaye (i think) soon to be followed by Lionel Ritchie, Whitney Houston and on and on they came.
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

Hello from Nairobi!

Hello from Nairobi, it has been a while since I have posted and a while since my last adventure. Unfortunately this is an adventure I am making on my own this time around, although as my wife always tells me 'everything happens for a reason' and I think I needed to take this trip at this time and on my own. Since arriving back from our last adventure life has settled into a somewhat normal routine, kids in school, Bec back to work, me working, Gus entertaining all of us, and we have in the main settled into our new life in Mt Martha. There have been though a number of commitments we have made since returning that we are working hard to put into place. Firstly family comes first, our kids, our relationships are a priority in our lives and we build our lives around this not the other way around. Life should be less complex and we should live our lives simpler (this one we have had some wins and some challenges), be true to our Dharma (or our purpose in life), live healthy both physically and mentally, live in the moment (less focus on the past and less focus on the future). So how have we gone, not bad, not great but not bad. We have made some progress although we did get distracted by the concept of extending our house, and I have been challenged by the ever increasing work opportunities, and Bec has returned to work etc etc. The universe sent us a gift by delaying our extension plans and we got a breather there, I am coming to the end of some challenging work assignments and we are slowly getting into a routine around Bec being back at work. We have also both focused considerably more on our purpose around selflessly serving kids and improving the lives of disadvantaged kids. We are determined to make this a core of our life not just an add on.

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're back! 2011 is the year of "Living Large" and the "Big Hairy Audacious Goal" (BHAG)

Yes the Petrucco family are at it again! "We have a dream" and yes in true Petrucco style it's a big one! As a family, and with Nick's family we are planning to walk "Coast to Coast" east to west, across Southern India, to be more specific, from Mangalore (just south of Cochin) to Chennai, a mere 776km's. The goal? To further our fundraising efforts with the Agape Grace Orphanage in Chennai. As those of you who shared our blog last year may remember, we raised enough funds to rebuild the Orphanage school to year 2 level. This year we want to build the school right through to year 12, and build a Community Centre. So when and how is all this going to happen? We will head to India in early December to commence our walk. We should complete the walk in about 6 weeks (early to mid Jan 12) We will have a full time walking team, Big Nick and Little Nick, AKA Nick Petrucco and Nick Gyss, and a part-time walking team consisting of India, Maggie, Gus, Bec, Jen, Kate and possibly Alice and Max (our niece and nephew) The part-timers will also double as the "support crew" for our full time walkers.

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!