Choices, and defining who we wish to be

A friend sent me a link to a TED talk by Ruth Chang about ‘How to make hard choices.’ It’s a brilliant, well-constructed talk that leads to an empowering conclusion:

‘Far from being sources of agony and dread, hard choices are precious opportunities for us to celebrate what is special about the human condition. That the reasons that govern our choices as correct or incorrect sometimes run out, and it is here in the space of hard choices that we have the power to create reasons for ourselves to become the distinctive people that we are. And that’s why hard choices are not a curse, but a godsend.’

I hesitated over sharing that ‘spoiler’, but I encourage you to watch the entire video to see how she steadily, logically and engagingly takes us with her to this conclusion.

What this comes down to for me is the reminder of something I have believed for as long as I can remember: that each of our choices – from the clothes we select to wear, to the jobs we invest our time in and people we decide to spend our time with – are neither right nor wrong, but simply about WHO WE CHOOSE TO BE. Continue reading

Trauma As Our Teacher

I was reading David Berceli’s book on the Trauma Release Process before falling asleep last night, and found these paragraphs enlightening and greatly comforting.

‘Trauma has the ability to teach us what love is, while simultaneously bringing out our innate capacity for deep caring. Through traumatic experiences we can discover our true mettle as compassionate individuals. Continue reading

Letting Go

Thank you Christine for placing this lovely quote in my path today.

“Letting go means just what it says. It’s an invitation to cease clinging to anything — whether it be an idea, a thing, an event, a particular time, or view, or desire.

It is a conscious decision to release with full acceptance into the stream of present moments as they are unfolding.

To let go means to give up coercing, resisting, or struggling, in exchange for something more powerful and wholesome -

which comes out of allowing things to be as they are without getting caught up in your attraction to or rejection of them, in the intrinsic stickiness of wanting, of liking and disliking”

Jon Kabat Zinn, Wherever you go, There You Are

Book Review: A House Near Luccoli

A House Near Luccoli: A Novel of Musical Intimacy & Intrigue in 17th Century Genoa by DM Denton (All Things That Matter Press, 2012)

I have a deep appreciation for things that appeal to my sense of beauty.  While I enjoy many novels for a multitude of varying reasons, from their excellent characterisation to their capacity to make me see the world in new ways, teach me new things or simply engage my rapt attention, there are only a few that have captured me with their lyricism and beauty. The historic novel ‘A House Near Luccoli’ by DM Denton flows with a rhythm and melody that took me some time to adjust to – her sophisticated style took a little time to attune to, and I initially found myself re-reading paragraphs to ensure I was completely clear on what was happening. However, once I let go of my structured expectations and instead listened to the unique flow of the novel, I found myself captivated, and transported back to 17th century Italy.

It’s such a unique and poetic style, that I feel as though I can hardly do it justice, and wish instead to share a couple of extracts:

“…Nonna blamed a tendency to malinconia on her granddaughter’s English side with too much rain in her blood. As if climate could be inherited – shifting skies of cloud and sun, never warmer than it was still cool in the shade, hay growing and ripening despite wet feet, root vegetables the staple, walls and hedges rolling along landscapes far from the sea.” Continue reading

My Life Philosophy

(I wrote this yesterday but didn’t get to post it).

My sister reposted an article by David Wong, published on the 16th July, entitled A 60 Second Guide to Learning the Awful Truth About Yourself, on facebook. I very seldom click on these things – I don’t believe in ‘quick fixes’ and think most such articles are a gimmicky waste of time – but something prompted me to today. I started it half-heartedly.

Step 1: ‘Get out a pen and paper. You don’t need much, an old receipt or something. Write down, in just a few words, what you did yesterday. Leave out the sleeping, eating, etc. And be totally honest, nobody is going to see it but you.’

Hmmmm. What did I do yesterday? Continue reading

“Happiness is Love”

A friend posted a link on facebook yesterday to an article published in April 2013, entitled ‘75 Years In The Making: Harvard Just Released Its Epic Study On What Men Need To Live A Happy Life.’ I found it interesting enough to share, although I feel as though I need a little more time to unpick my responses to it.

“In 1938 Harvard University began following 268 male undergraduate students and kicked off the longest-running longitudinal studies of human development in history.  The study’s goal was to determine as best as possible what factors contribute most strongly to human flourishing.  The astonishing range of psychological, anthropological, and physical traits — ranging from personality type to IQ to drinking habits to family relationships to “hanging length of his scrotum” — indicates just how exhaustive and quantifiable the research data has become.  Recently, George Vaillant, who directed the study for more than three decades, published the study’s findings in the 2012 book Triumphs of Experience and the following is the book’s synopsis:

“At a time when many people around the world are living into their tenth decade, the longest longitudinal study of human development ever undertaken offers some welcome news for the new old age: our lives continue to evolve in our later years, and often become more fulfilling than before.  Continue reading

Loss, grief, life, and maintaining our humanity

Today was another beautiful winter’s day – the sun shining, a gentle breeze blowing in through my office window, the bustle and laughter in Reception drifting through as background chatter. I was sitting at my desk, working on a report, when my phone rang. The instant I heard the stress in the voice of the volunteer and friend on the other end of the line, I knew something was wrong. She had gone into the community this morning with our Feeding Scheme, to deliver food parcels to families who have no form of income, no way of accessing food, and at least one family member on Antiretroviral therapy.

She – along with our driver and another volunteer – had stopped to help a girl who had had a stillborn baby on the side of the road. The girl herself was very ill and in need of urgent healthcare, but they had phoned for an ambulance numerous times and, hours later, were still waiting. The baby was dead, still cocooned in its sac. They needed guidance and advice, which our staff were swiftly able to provide. The girl, her mother, and the little baby were loaded gently into their vehicle and taken to the nearest Clinic – a simple act that may well have saved her life. The girl was eventually admitted to hospital, and will be monitored and followed up with by one of our carers once she is discharged. Many people here are praying for her physical and emotional recovery. 

The emotions that washed over me almost instantly were sorrow, pain, fear, and grief. When I then paused to look at some of the subliminal things I was thinking at that moment, which led to my emotions, they included statements such as “Life is so delicate”, “Everything I think is important is actually so small and unimportant in the face of death”, “Life is full of pain”, “We take so much for granted.” Continue reading