Thursday, May 1, 2014

Why technology can't replace human relationships

The human race is devolving. Its easier to interact using technology than to engage in meaningful relationships where you look the person in the eye, smell their fear, feel their anger or see their love. Its cowardice and it demeans us. Are we so afraid to feel pain that we've shut off the avenues to joy as well?

So much of life's richness comes from dealing with the present, tackling difficulties, pushing through fears and allowing people into our hearts. A virtual hug is a sentiment only. Feeling someone's arms around you is a tactile experience, reality, fulfilling something deep inside the human psyche that cannot be replicated or synthesised.

We were made to be herd animals - a pack, for support and safety, shared joys and fun. When we withdraw physically from our own, we deprive ourselves of what we need, at the deepest level.

Conversely, when all our senses are engaged we are truly in the moment, truly living. Sweating as you tackle that mountain/climbing wall, feeling the water surround your body as you glide through, tasting the wind as you ride a bicycle down a steep road, watching your child play...

There is no substitute for what you experience physically, mentally and spiritually by actually being in the moment.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dear Diary - Is a diary the best friend you'll ever have?

Why keeping a diary is good for the soul
Ever had one of those days when you just wanted to crawl back under the covers and sleep it off? Ever had a problem you thought NO ONE would understand? Well, guess what? You have at least one friend in the world - your diary. Jotting down your feelings can be a powerful way to unleash your frustrations, your passions, your creativity, your grief, your anger, your joy. It's the one time you're completely honest, because you're talking to... yourself. There's no judgement. There's no blame. It's just you and your innermost thoughts.
Lynn's journals
When is a diary a negative thing?
Of course, you might think that dumping all your negative stuff in a journal is a bad thing, that it keeps you locked inside your misery. But it doesn't have to. Your diary can be a notebook of sorts, for collecting all the little bits and pieces you find which are of interest, for doodling, sketching and glueing pictures. If can be a place where you store great ideas, write down goals and dreams, spell out your passions. It's up to you. If your diary is a place you want to revisit, make it an uplifting place to be! Be kind to yourself. Search for inspirational quotes to perk you up when you're feeling blue.
Paulette's Art Journaling
Art Journaling
This has become a popular way of boosting creativity and providing an outlet for emotions. It doesn't have to be brilliant art. It's whatever you want it to be, whatever sparks your interest. You can even do classes to learn how art journal classes  Its perfect for moody teenagers, dispirited middle-agers, children, grandmothers, busy professionals - anyone.

Julie Ann
So, enjoy the creative freedom Art Journaling can give you. Try it!

Monday, October 14, 2013

ME time

Me time. It's not only advisable, it's a necessity. You must put time aside for yourself. Life can be stressful, insanely busy. The demands on your time can wear you down, cause you sleepless nights, aches and pains you didn't know you had and mood swings you don't want. It's all about winding down with some time to yourself. And you not only deserve it, you desperately need it. Plot it into your diary. Make a date with a friend to have coffee/lunch, take the time to read a good book or watch something you've been hanging out for. It's not selfish. It's sensible.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Discontented? Frustrated? Depressed?

So, your day is crap. Everything seems to be piling on top of you and there's nothing you can do to stop it. Yep. Days like this make you wonder why you bother getting up in the morning. But I have discovered something, just today, that has made a big difference - gave me something new, something clear to hold onto. Indian spiritual leader, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, has this to say:
"When there is gratitude, complaints disappear... When there is complaint in the mind, there is discontent, frustration and depression - all that follows. If you are not grateful... you will find fault. Even if there is none, you will try to see it. Your mind will find it for you.
This is the lower journey. Gratitude is the middle way. And as you rise above that... gratitude flows out from you as grace."

(- from 'Bang on the Door'. Ravi Shankar is founder of the Art of Living Foundation, which aims to relieve individual stress, societal problems, and violence.)

Monday, September 2, 2013

How You Handle Failure Determines Your Success

I believe that for each of us, there is at least one major life lesson we must learn, which will keep presenting itself in one form or another, until we learn it. It might be about self-control, healthy boundaries with other people, being willing to share our thoughts and feelings, tackling anxiety positively or giving oneself permission to feel blargh occasionally.

One of the essential lessons I've learned from my life as a writer (and  human being too!) is that how I handle my failures and mistakes has a huge impact upon my later successes. If I crumple at the slightest criticism, take it personally, lash out, blame others, I don't take anything useful away from the experience. Which is why I am always open to comments about my writing work. There is a lot of wisdom out there. I am not the font of it! And generally, I find people to be helpful, thoughtful and kind, so why be afraid of feedback? The equation is simple - I want to succeed, therefore I must learn the lessons to do so.
Sportsmen and women know this lesson well. There is only one winner in an event. The rest must deal with the disappointment of losing or placing second or third. The answer is not, as some people think, to eliminate competition and award everyone prizes for participation. That would completely nullify our achievement, strip us of the drive and courage to push beyond our boundaries. It's just silly. The answer is to teach and learn how to handle failure and disappointment. You cannot eradicate either from human existence. Just as we cannot smile and be happy every single moment of the day, we need to feel the full range of emotions, so too must we accept  failure.

If we can pick ourselves up, learn what went wrong and bravely aim to do better next time, we will find the ecstatic joy of personal achievement, no matter how small the goal.

Monday, July 29, 2013

How do you stay married in this crazy world?

The Perfect Marriage
Marriage isn't about having the perfect relationship, it's about choosing to go through your life together, side by side, no matter what happens.

Avoiding Stress & Hassles
Think you can avoid stress, hassles, random accidents? Forget it! Life comes with only one guarantee - it is unpredictable. You cannot make yourself immune by hiding away. But how you handle these unpleasant times is up to you. Make it worse or make it easier, the ball is in your court.

Personal Issues
In any relationship there will arise issues that are yours alone - issues from your childhood, previous experiences you may be anxious not to repeat. It doesn't matter how many relationships you have, these issues will keep cropping up until you learn the life lesson you're meant to learn, whether it's about trust, healthy boundaries, saying 'no', keeping calm in a crisis, taming your perfectionist tendencies etc. So blaming your partner isn't going help. And moving on to another partner certainly won't make these personal issues go away either.

Bad Influences
There are so many bad influences upon modern marriage, sexual stereotypes in the media being the worst. Our expectations of a partner should not be determined by what some advertiser thinks will sell his/her product, but by what is meaningful to us, as human beings with needs and desires. So resist the influence of the gasping orgasms, trite platitudes and neat, happy endings. Be prepared to write your own relationship, with your own terms. Intimacy is what we all want. We want to feel loved and appreciated, accepted and proud of. No movie can teach you how to accomplish that because what you're experiencing is a day to day journey with a real person, who has their own agenda too. There are many wonderful books available about managing relationships. One of the best is "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman.

Seeking Help
If you get stuck, seeking help from a professional can open doors you thought were shut. It's well worth trying. Confiding in someone outside the relationship, who has an objective view, gives you the freedom to see your partner from a different, more helpful angle.

The Rewards
Spending your life with someone means there will be tough times, when you might feel betrayed, angry or saddened. You may feel that giving up is the only way forward. But you can work through this. Be honest about how you feel and accept your partner's honest feelings as fact too. Flexibility. Sympathy. Patience when you don't understand. Selflessness. These are the keys to a successful marriage, not demanding that your needs be met, like some screaming infant. If you are willing to work at it, the pay-off is a joyful, exciting, comforting and content life together.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Serenity of A Winter Garden

(c) Dawn Meredith
Focus, right now, with me. Imagine you are here, in this moment.

You're sitting on a comfortable garden seat, with the gentle winter sun streaming through the trees. Breathe deep, releasing tension and worries into the still, cool air.  After days of rain, silver droplets cling to every leaf and bud, lining up on the garden furniture. The only sounds are the trills of tiny finches, like gemstones, flashing in the sunlight and the parrots and wattle birds squeaking and rustling in camellia trees behind you. Mr Cat sits on a chair, licking his whiskers and eyeing the dogs imperiously. They lie at your feet, eyes closed, soaking up the sun.

Forget-me-nots and green spotted snowdrops add delicate touches of white and blue to the winter palette – fragile little blooms, yet strong enough to fight winter’s chill.

(c) Dawn Meredith

The spring jonquils, in pots on the verandah, are already nodding their golden trumpet heads, reminding us that in a few short months the garden will change yet again.

(c) Dawn Meredith
There’s a peacefulness about winter, more than any other season, which soothes the mind. In its silvery stillness, a frosty morning has exquisite beauty.