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10 Lessons From Cats

I’ve been watching my two beautiful Tonkinese cats this morning and reflecting that the way they live holds great lessons for life.

Here are some of those things for which cats are such wonderful reminders.

  1. Creamy and Hershey Be sure to make time every day for play.
  2. Look for sunshine in your life and, when you find it, take the time to stretch your soul into it and enjoy.
  3. Develop the art of stillness.
  4. Take care of those close to you. Watch out for them, spend time with them and share life’s fun as much as you can.
  5. When you’ve had a spat with someone, forgive and forget. True friendship dwells above and beyond those differences.
  6. Explore new spaces, new places, and new things with insatiable curiosity – but gently and safely, taking care of yourself at the same time.
  7. You don’t have to be tense to stay alert, so relax those muscles. You can remain alert and completely, totally relaxed at the same time.
  8. When life seems cold, look for the warmest spot you can find and stay there. It’s ok to curl up under the doona sometimes and stay hidden for a while.
  9. When you know what you want in life, be sure to ask for it – loudly if necessary – in the certainty it will come to you in the end …
  10. … but most of the time you don’t have to put your claws out. A soft touch may be all you need to gain attention. :)

I have studied many philosophers and many cats.  The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior.  (Hippolyte Taine)

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One Voice in the Crowd

So often we think we can’t do much to make the world a better place. We look at the enormity of the task and think “What on earth can I do about it? Who am I, after all?  Just one voice in the crowd!”

But here’s great little video I came across on You Tube, thanks to a friend who sent me the link. It reminds us that little things can make a big difference – if enough of us come together to do them!  Even as one voice in the crowd, we can help to swell the tide of change.

Visit the We Are What We Do website for more information.

One brick in the wall you may be, one voice in the crowd
But without you we are weaker and our song may not be heard
One drop in the ocean, but each drop will swell the tide
So be your one brick in the wall, be one voice in the crowd

And we are foolish people who do nothing
Because we know how little one person can do
Yes we are foolish people who do nothing
Because we know how little one can do

(Lyrics from One Voice in the Crowd, by Judy Small)

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Beauty

As Joseph Addison, British poet and statesman, once said several hundred years ago:

There is nothing that makes its way more directly to the soul than beauty.

We can miss seeing true beauty because we are taught to ignore everything but its most superficial face.

Movies, advertisements, TV shows and magazines bombard us with ‘beautiful people’. They try to convince us that only the slimmest, sleekest, glossiest, purest or most perfect specimens can be truly beautiful.

Anything less is simply ordinary. Anything much less is a target for laughter, raised eyebrows and even scorn.

We may not accept these ‘rules’ intellectually. After all, this is simply prejudice, is it not? And of course we aren’t prejudiced, are we?

But the intellect can be a fickle thing, betrayed by gut reactions and fuelled by stereotypes. As many folk who are ‘much less’ than perfect – so ‘much less’ than beautiful – can no doubt attest.

Then sometimes there comes a wonderful watershed moment, a glorious battle cry to challenge our society out of its comfort zone of negative judgements.

One of those moments was when Susan Boyle sang on the TV show Britain’s Got Talent.

To sing is to love and affirm, to fly and soar, to coast into the hearts of the people who listen, to tell them that life is to live, that love is there, that nothing is a promise, but that beauty exists, and must be hunted for and found.

(Joan Baez)

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The Colour of Days

Ever thought of using colours to describe your day? I’ve been playing with the idea and I’ve realised there’s a huge palette of shades from which to choose and every colour has at least two faces.

BLUE days can be sad days – when I’m ‘feeling blue’. But they can also be days that reach as high as the bluest of skies, in which I’m flying after my dreams.

RED days can sometimes be like huge, red STOP signs. Days when warning signals in my body or frazzled brain tell me I’m overstretched and need to take time out.  But they can also be days when I’m alight with red hot passion to change the world and the ‘fire in my belly’ is well and truly ignited!

What about BLACK days? Some of those are full of ‘grrrrr’ moments and dark thoughts. It doesn’t have to be a day of major disasters. Even a string of small frustrations can certainly add a charcoal tinge! But some ‘black days’ can be like the velvety blackness of a silent, moonless night. Those are days when the hustle and bustle of the world has faded away and I find time and quiet space for reflection.Color of Your Day

Not only these three, but many more colours of the spectrum are woven into life’s rich tapestry. And each colour also has its ‘upbeat’ and ‘downbeat’ aspects.

As I think about that, I realise both faces of every colour are equally important and often interdependent.  The bright blue of my dreams can sometimes be tinged with the more sombre hue of sadness or disappointment. A period of passionate, ‘changing-the-world’ days can take so much energy, that I’m brought up short by one of those warning stop signs and need time to rest and recover.

Athough it’s sometimes hard at the time to appreciate the darker days – to see the gifts they bring – they are also a blessing.

As Kahlil Gibran once said:

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.

So I need those darker days too, if my heart is to ‘stand in the sun’.

Perhaps with the colour of my days I can paint the picture of my life. But I need all those subtle differences in shading – from light to dark – to give the whole picture dimension and depth.

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Fence Sitting

Why is it that ‘sitting on the fence‘ is so often considered a bad thing? When people talk about someone who is doing so, they often speak with a curl of the lip, a raised eyebrow, a roll of the eyes or a sigh of resignation.

It seems we’re always supposed to draw a conclusion, reach a decision, take a stand or choose a side.

But let’s face it, from the top of a fence you can see the horizon in all directions. You get a good overview of all the fields or gardens within viewing distance. Jump off that fence, and part of your view is obscured.

One of my favourite poems is by Michael Leunig:

Come sit down beside me, I said to myself.
And although it doesn’t make sense,
I held my own hand as a small sign of trust
And together I sat on the fence.

To me, this speaks volumes about the inner confusion and division that can happen when we’re trying to resolve two (or more) ways of seeing or being in the world. But it also speaks about a need to trust the process.

Not everything has to be an either/or issue and we don’t always have to resolve every division. It’s ok to ‘hold our own hands as a small sign of trust’ and stay right where we are – sitting on the fence. It’s a great spot from which to scan the horizon for those elusive both/and ideas.

So if there’s an issue for you in which the jury is still out, come and join me on the fence.

The view’s pretty good from up here! :)