The power of thought

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Last week my flatmate and another friend were heading out for drinks and a fashion show, followed by a night on the town with lots of dancing. Trying not to be jealous, I wished them a good night, then returned to my ‘nest’ on the couch with my blanket cocoon and icepacks, and prepared myself for yet another night in watching telly. It was going to be a big night – my first ‘real’ food in several days since the dental surgery and I can’t really express just how excited I was to eat it (no, I’m not kidding; by this time I was dreaming of big fat steaks, burgers, chicken wraps, anything with any real substance, and this was as close as I could get!).

I’d made gnocchi with a light cream sauce with some grated vegies, onions and garlic I’d sautéed until soft. However, I underestimated how hard it would be to actually get the pieces of gnocchi into my swollen mouth, and I was a little achy by the time I finished (but gee it tasted like heaven!).

It was around this time that my flatmate called in a bit of a fluster – she’s left their fashion show tickets on her bed. There was no question; of course I’d drop them into her! Now I did for one split second consider changing out of my PJ’s into normal clothes for the trip, but dismissed it. I even considered keeping the icepack tied to my face, but thought better of it – might scare another driver if they happened to look over at me. So off I went in my PJ’s, fluffy grey dressing robe and all, with my hair unbrushed and my face looking like a bruised chip monk – what did it matter? No-one was going to see me. I even joked to my other flatmate as I left “hope I don’t get pulled over!” Why, oh why, did I say that…?

There were no parks near the agreed drop off spot, so I pulled in a little further up in front on a taxi queue. By this time my face was full on throbbing with pain (damn you delicious gnocchi!). I just wanted to call my friend, hand over the tickets, and go home. But no.

The taxi started honking at me even though I’d left ample room for him to pull out around me, so I rolled forward a bit more. By now I’m almost right in the very busy pedestrian walkway crossing at the top of the mall in Brisbane City (in front of the Treasury Casino if you’re familiar with the area), and apparently on a yellow line (which means no standing at any time), and I have my mobile phone in my hand trying to call my friend (completely illegal in Brisbane – you need to have the engine turned off). Then I look up to see several Friday night revellers about to cross the road staring at me very amused, and the reason for their amusement: two policemen making a beeline straight for me. Crap.

I dropped the phone like a hot potato, but I knew they’d seen it. Winding down the window I mumbled (literally, with the whole swollen face and all) something about tickets for my flatmate. I was so embarrassed – the people in the background were laughing, my face was throbbing with pain and swollen with some pretty impressive green and purple bruises on my cheeks. And of course I was in my ever so classy PJ/fury robe ensemble. The policeman took it all in, and must have taken pity on me (thank you!); he only mentioned I needed to move to let the taxis out, and suggested I pull up a little further in a non-yellow lined area.

While I was extremely grateful to be getting off so lightly (I’d envisioned at least a $100 fine for using the phone with the engine on), I immediately thought back to those fateful words I’d utter in jest as I left the house… Was it a simple case of Murphy’s Law? Or had I jinxed myself?

Then yesterday I had another moment while driving in the car, where I thought something fleetingly, and then about 2mins later it happened. This made me wonder if the Universe was trying to tell me something and I just didn’t listen? Or had I somehow made it happen by thinking about it and visualising it, albeit briefly?

I’m very familiar with the idea of the power of suggestion and subliminal messages – after all, this is how the advertising world gets us to crave food and items we don’t actually need or want (seriously I don’t even eat Macca’s, but damn those adds make me want one of those new lamb burgers… if only I could get it in my mouth). And I’m familiar with the use of vision boards where you place pictures of your goals and positive things in a prominent place that you see every day, to get into your subconscious and inspire you (we have one on our toilet door; it’s a great place to think). Plus, I’m a big believer in what you put out into the Universe, you get back. So then, is it really such a big leap to thinking I may have made those two things happen?

And if I did, then I guess my next question is: How do I turn it into positive things happening? I doubt it’s as simple as just thinking about it – otherwise we’d all be Gold Lotto winners!

Many years ago when I was a manager with a wonderful Australian party plan company Le Reve, I was taught to ‘catch my thoughts’; a way of becoming aware of exactly what it is you’re thinking about; If your thoughts are taking a negative angle you ‘catch’ yourself and change your train of thought into a positive.

I also now recall that around the same time, I was lent the book The Secret, which created quite a controversial furore around 2006 when it was released on DVD first, then in book form as it grew in popularity. Now I’ll admit I’ve had that book for about 5yrs, but have never actually read it. Even though one of my most treasured friends, who now lives in New York, swears by this book contributing to her successful move across the world several years ago, finding a job amongst economic unrest, and finding her wonderful now husband!

Hmmm, Maybe I should dig that book out and read it once and for all. After all, what have I got to lose? Plus I can already visualise exactly which box it’s packed away in underneath my house…

What is wisdom?

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Why am I thinking of all of this ‘wisdom’ stuff right now? Well I’m sitting on the couch in my sunroom, in my PJ’s, with an icepack literally tied to my face because I’ve just had surgery to remove my last two bottom wisdom teeth, and it got me to thinking about why they call them Wisdom Teeth…?

I used to associate wisdom with adulthood. I thought when I was going to turn 30 a couple of years ago it meant I’d finally ‘grow up’. In the 12mth lead up to it I had a full-on pre-midlife crisis; this all-consuming panic: What the hell was I doing with my life???

I felt like I had to be a ‘real’ adult now. I would no longer be in my 20’s and therefore surely I could no longer continue to just amble by in life, moving in whatever direction I fancied at the time, able to wave off mistakes as typical stuff young people get up to? Yes I had travelled overseas to many different countries, and grown from those experiences. Yes I had worked hard & finally bought my first brand new car. Yes I had a secure job in a large company with prospects to move up the ladder.  But I wasn’t happy. I felt like I was missing the point, like something vital was missing from my life. Was it because I’d just gone through a break up of a relationship? Because I didn’t have children yet to focus on? Yes, I’d say they had a hand in it, but that wasn’t it…

I felt I had to have a real direction in life, take real responsibility for myself and my actions, make real plans for my future – after all, I didn’t want to be working in the bank for the rest of my life. Yes I was very good at what I did, and enjoyed helping people immensely (most of the time), but it wasn’t what I felt was my calling in life. I kept being asked to consider becoming a branch Manager, which was very flattering and supportive, but left me uninspired. I looked into studying to become a financial planner, but then the GFC (Global Financial Crisis) hit, which squashed that idea dead in its tracks.

So at 29yrs old I enrolled in Uni (university/college) for the first time, in an industry completely unrelated to anything I’ve ever worked in before: Education. A very daunting experience, particularly because no-one in my immediate family had ever been to Uni before, and I wasn’t quite sure I was smart enough for it?

The first 6mths I had to compete against a shitty male flatmate who constantly undermined me, and my hard efforts with his childish power struggles (we were living in his rich Daddy’s house after all…), constantly pranking me, and generally just making my life hell for his own amusement (at first I could shake it off as funny, until things took a turn for the nasty after he broke up with his girlfriend and demanded I stop being friends with her). If my flatmates helped me proofread an assignment, or suggested any changes here or there, then the resulting high mark was “ours”, not mine. This left huge doubt in my mind about my own abilities. Maybe I should just give up, go back to being ‘normal’, go back to a normal 9-5/Mon-Fri job, not these crazy night and weekend hours I’d had to change to, to fit around my new Uni schedule. And I’d be able to see my friends and family again, instead of missing out on every moment in their lives because I was either at work or Uni, or writing an assignment…

But I couldn’t quit now; the new people I’d met, the new experiences I was having, the new knowledge I was getting (I felt as if surely my brain had grown in size to hold all this new amazing information I was gaining!). No, I’d changed. I thought differently now, saw life through new lenses. I’d been taught to question everything. I couldn’t go back now.

So I moved house mid-year, and worked hard. The high marks kept coming, and I finally knew: I COULD do this! This was all MY doing and I’d earned those results fair and square! Finally, finally, I started to believe in myself.

I realised that I really could do anything I set my mind and applied myself to. Which I try to remind myself of now when I try other things in life and start to doubt myself. Or when life throws those curve balls at you. I now see being an ‘adult’ and ‘having wisdom’ as such a multifaceted thing, unending, continuously evolving. Do you remember those old sayings your Grandma or Mum used to say when you were growing up that used to make your eyes role? Things like “everything happens for a reason”, “treat others how you want to be treated”, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”, “life’s not about the goals you make, its what happens on the journey getting there”. There are millions of these little sayings, and I used to think they were so old fashioned, but as I get older I notice many of these little pearls are actually pretty damn insightful.

I think maybe they say you get wisdom with age because you’ve had time, and opportunity, to make mistakes in life. To learn how to deal with those mistakes – it’s ok to make mistakes, but learn from them, and don’t repeat them! Understanding that you have to be responsible for yourself and your own actions, and own up to the consequences of those actions.

Everyone is different and needs to go on their own journey. I guess for me personally my biggest (and hardest) wisdom growth would be these little pearls:

  • Realising that while I am completely guilty of (sometimes) seeing things in complete black and white, not everyone thinks like me, and I have to make allowances for that; I try very hard to have empathy, to put myself in that person’s shoes and what I know about how this person thinks, so that I can understand why that person is thinking or feeling a certain way.
  • Being such a fiery and passionate personality, I constantly work on stopping and thinking before I speak.
  • Being true to myself. Knowing who you are as a person is a huge milestone for anyone! But you have to know who your are first, understanding your own strengths and weaknesses, what it is that makes you you, before you can really be true to yourself. I may not know exactly what I want in life and where I’m going, but I certainly know who I am!
  • That it’s ok to not have a set plan in life! These last few years have taught me that stuff is going to happen whether you like it or not; it’s more about how you deal with it, adapt to it, and move forward from/with it. I have no idea what’s going to happen in the next 12mths, but I hope to have some more fun and adventures along the way! Life doesn’t have to be so rigid and serious all the time.

But so, so much more too – this is just the tip of the iceberg; as long as I keep learning new things, I’ll keep gaining wisdom (well hopefully)! But for right now, the wisest thing I can do is to take some more (over the counter painkiller) drugs and change the icepack… and maybe have a bowl of custard.

What do I really want?

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I’m new to the Blog world (both reading them and the idea of writing them), so a friend of mine sent me a link to read a particular travel blog the other day (Let your joy rise). I had the preconceived notion it was going to be solely about travel & just make me travel-sick (you know, the opposite of home-sick, when you’ve been home too long & are just itching for another adventure overseas, the wonder of experiencing a new culture, the knowledge that your way of thinking & seeing the world has just shifted another gear…). But I was wrong.

It was about a woman in her mid-late 20’s who’s gone through a life-changing shift which is usually reserved for those at least 10yrs older: the break-up of a 10yr relationship & subsequent divorce. This woman’s blog is not just about travelling, it’s about finding out who she really is. We’ve all been in this position to some degree at least once in our lives, and we’ve all faced the age-old dilemma; how do you even start with something like this?? Some people work it out pretty quick, some never do & just fall into dependant relationships one after the other, some amble for years somewhere in between going back & forth with periods of certain direction and purpose, then tapering off, loosing direction and sense of self, wondering what the hell this thing called “Life” is all about…

This young woman chose to make a list totaling of no less than 150 things she would like to do. But this is no ‘Bucket’ list, this is a list of things to do NOW, in her youth, to help her experience what life has to offer & find her own direction along the way. After reading only one chapter of this blog I was inspired. It would take a few days for the thoughts to mingle in my very overfull brain, before realizing I needed to make a list too. 150 things that I want to do in my immediate future – easy right? Hmm, not so much. What do I want to do? Where do I want to be in a few years time? What direction do I want to take? What is it that I want for my short-term goals of which some are easily attainable, yet some are bigger, more challenging (either physically, mentally or both)? Until recently I thought I knew exactly what I wanted.

English: An unclothed woman in Washington, D.C...

Right now I’ve only managed to think of 53 things. Some big, some small. Some incredibly meaningful to me, some trivial. They range from getting my tax done for the last 2yrs (look I was scared about not paying enough HECS & getting a big bill ok, and time just seemed to drift past in a procrastinated haze of exams, work and family emergencies… ), to specific places I want to either see for the first time overseas, or go back to see in more depth overseas. From learning to meditate, to finishing my degree. I’m sure I’ll add to it as I go along, because life isn’t static, it’s flexible and I have learnt (but don’t always succeed) that I need to bend more, otherwise you break. So will I publish my complete list and blog about each item like Shanny who inspired me? No probably not, some things I may want to keep just for me. But as I continue to work through little pieces here & there, and work out how to do this whole ‘blog’ thing, I’m sure many items on my list will find their way into my writing.