beyond reach…restless ramblings

It’s 9:15am on Tuesday, Easter Tuesday. It’s a long weekend and I’m sitting listening to the cyclic waves crashing against the sandy shoreline no more than 20 metres away from the comfort of my camp chair.

Numerous boats rock gently moared 100m from shore in front of me, behind me our trusty Sunliner campervan, within which my partner snores. (Ok, poetic license on that one…she’s not snoring, but has fallen back to sleep).

I’m wrestling. This should be a place of comfort, contentment, of relaxation…yet I find myself strangely agitated, circumspect and unable to settle into a headspace of calm peaceful rest. I’ve flicked between my book, my sudoku, my phone (upon which I’m currently typing). I’m aware that this state of unease is most unusual for me.

Questions percolate: am I avoiding something I’d rather not think about? Is there something troubling me that I’m unaware of? Is this energetic agitation gearing me for directed activity and unknown but needed outlet – for which I’m currently oblivious to?

As a counsellor my mind locates strategies for bringing me back into the here-and-now; I attend to my thoughts, acknowledging and accepting them, yet the restlessness remains. Have I seriously been this wound up for the past few months?

I’m reminded of wisdom shared from an old mentor that it often takes 3 weeks break to fully unwind and allow the internal bodily systems to dissipate stored adrenalin and cortisol created from carrying excess and accumulated stress. I’ve been enjoying this current road trip for a mere 3 days, hardly 3 weeks. I find this somewhat reassuring and comforting.

Stop. Breath. Look up. Breath. Listen to the waves. Breath. Look at the boats. Breath. Watch the seagulls. Breath.

Energy to burn? Agitation to soothe? Peace to find? Motivation to direct? Pause.

In silence and solitude is the souls rest. I’m surrounded by stimulation, perhaps that’s what’s stirring this discontent?

Yesterday we spotted a sizable bird of prey standing over a dead kangaroo. Alas our u-turn and pulling over to get a photo stirred this bird to take flight into the security of the surrounding plantation forest. And whilst we waited patiently with the engine off the bird failed to return.

Still, we saw the expansive wing span of this majestic creature and were awed by its beauty and grace as it flew. I love birds of prey – this was seriously sizable, much bigger than a field hawk, likely an eagle, the largest I’ve seen live. I smile as I recall this, knowing this memory will eventually fade.

Waiting. Watching. Hoping. Perhaps this encounter is reflective of my current self? Longing for a glimpse of something that is within visual reach, yet cannot be captured?

My internally conflicted ethical dilemma…a personal reflection

What’s with all this self-promotion?

I have to be honest. I really struggle with narcissism, not mine, but others. I laugh regularly with my step-son with his tendency to post selfies…like seriously twenty times a day!!! What’s with that??? I get that it’s a generational trend and he uses it as a way of socialising with his friends…but for me, I find it both amusing, and somewhat mildly disturbing. But that isn’t the essence of this blog…this is about my own struggle with self-promotion.

Continue reading

PIVOT/Men’s Health Matters – day 1

Welcome to day 1 of PIVOT/Men’s Health Matters.  

I invite you to join me and spend 5 mins exploring 5 topics using some basic starter questions. Try and let your thoughts flow without analysing them too much. Let them find their own landing place – picture autumn leaves floating before settling on the ground. Accept them.  Continue reading

Introducing Anchored for Life

It’s been a long road putting together Anchored for Life. A road with many twists, turns and even a few dead ends. Completing my Master of Clinical Counselling at the end of 2017 was no mean feat!

Along the way I’ve been reminded “Why” I chose to do it; been tempted to “cut and run”; had moments of self-doubt and way too many occasions when the financial implications of study, both in terms of overall cost (they don’t come cheap!), but more so the loss of income and cash flow due to employment changes made to accommodate the needs to complete the course and it’s required placement hours, took a hefty toll!!!

At one point I faced the hard conversation that nearly resulted in my inability to cover my mortgage. Talk about stressful!

Yet, I remained dedicated, driven even, in my efforts to finish. There was merit in finishing in and of itself. But there was more to it, at least for me anyway. I’ve long had people joke about me being a psych; psych friends who said I was more psych than they were; others who after talking to me about some concern, challenge or dilemma they were confronted by would comment about how helpful I’d been, how gifted even. Others used phrases such as calling or destined to be a counsellor.

At the end of the day, others opinions, affirmations and accolades, whilst lovely to hear, aren’t my motivation, nor my reward.

I’ve tried to do a one-take video describing the basics of how the unfolding story of Anchored for Life came to be. This blog was really the first “testing the waters” of my larger vision and dream.

It’s now been several years since I was involved in a cause-based role requiring me to advocate the needs of others. Now it’s my turn. I hope that after watching this short video explaining the logo, values and meaning underpinning Anchored for Life that you may give consideration to a concept I call “Community Counselling Fund”.

Simply, would you contribute to the cost of others accessing Counselling who may otherwise be unable to afford it?

Check it out and let me know what you think.

YouTube video: Introducing Anchored for Life

Just be…

I embark on 2018 faced with vastly different life dynamics.

No longer do I embrace a new year with my calendar semi planned out with completing my Masters, with coaching my sons’ basketball and soccer teams and the challenge of juggling it all.

No longer am I constrained by study requirements which limit vocational and employment choices.

No longer am I restricted to the demands of daily living and managing energy levels on my own.

Gone are the days of feeling drained from doing it all on my own, alone. Gone too are the days that carried certainty around vocational calling. It’s a new season of life.

I commence the year settled in a new relationship with my partner & her kids, and of course my boys. So I add to the mix of being a dad a new set of learning as a daily partner (this is big after 10years of independent living) and as a step-parent.

With my Master of Clinical Counselling now complete I embark on building private practice (www.anchoredforlife.com).

But what about me? Who am I now I’m no longer a student, a coach? Am I any different? What will I do? Who will I be?

I was discussing some of this recently with my partner and sharing how I realize my focus is still on being the best dad I can be, supporting my eldest through VCE (Yr 12) and on being a non-anxious and calming presence (hopefully) for those in the household. I have free time and space to simply be. I like it!

Somehow as confirmation I’ve been contacted by several friends wanting input/advice/thoughts about situations they’re confronted with. Ethically I cannot counsel them, but I can share life as a friend. I’m reminded it’s who I am that matters.

Then I came across this; and simply had to share it. I cannot vouch for the authenticity of the source, but I can say a big yes to the content! Be happy people. Be!

“Dear Stranger,

You don’t know me but I hear you are going through a tough time, and I would like to help you. I want to be open and honest with you, and let you know that happiness isn’t something just afforded to a special few. It can be yours, if you take the time to let it grow.

It’s OK to be stressed, scared and sad, I certainly have been throughout my life. I’ve confronted my biggest fears time and time again. I’ve cheated death on many adventures, seen loved ones pass away, failed in business, minced my words in front of tough audiences, and had my heart broken.

I know I’m fortunate to live an extraordinary life, and that most people would assume my business success, and the wealth that comes with it, have brought me happiness. But they haven’t; in fact it’s the reverse. I am successful, wealthy and connected because I am happy.

So many people get caught up in doing what they think will make them happy but, in my opinion, this is where they fail. Happiness is not about doing, it’s about being. In order to be happy, you need to think consciously about it. Don’t forget the to-do list, but remember to write a to-be list too.

Kids are often asked: ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ The world expects grandiose aspirations: ‘I want to be a writer, a doctor, the prime minister.’ They’re told: go to school, go to college, get a job, get married, and then you’ll be happy. But that’s all about doing, not being – and while doing will bring you moments of joy, it won’t necessarily reward you with lasting happiness.

Stop and breathe. Be healthy. Be around your friends and family. Be there for someone, and let someone be there for you. Be bold. Just be for a minute.

If you allow yourself to be in the moment, and appreciate the moment, happiness will follow. I speak from experience. We’ve built a business empire, joined conversations about the future of our planet, attended many memorable parties and met many unforgettable people. And while these things have brought me great joy, it’s the moments that I stopped just to be, rather than do, that have given me true happiness. Why? Because allowing yourself just to be, puts things into perspective. Try it. Be still. Be present.

For me, it’s watching the flamingos fly across Necker Island at dusk. It’s holding my new grandchild’s tiny hands. It’s looking up at the stars and dreaming of seeing them up close one day. It’s listening to my family’s dinner-time debates. It’s the smile on a stranger’s face, the smell of rain, the ripple of a wave, the wind across the sand. It’s the first snow fall of winter, and the last storm of summer. It’s sunrise and sunset.

There’s a reason we’re called human beings and not human doings. As human beings we have the ability to think, move and communicate in a heightened way. We can cooperate, understand, reconcile and love, that’s what sets us apart from most other species.

Don’t waste your human talents by stressing about nominal things, or that which you cannot change. If you take the time simply to be and appreciate the fruits of life, your stresses will begin to dissolve, and you will be happier.

But don’t just seek happiness when you’re down. Happiness shouldn’t be a goal, it should be a habit. Take the focus off doing, and start being every day. Be loving, be grateful, be helpful, and be a spectator to your own thoughts.

Allow yourself to be in the moment, and appreciate the moment. Take the focus off everything you think you need to do, and start being – I promise you, happiness will follow.

Happy regards,

Richard Branson