The art of trying…again. 

I’m enjoying a coffee midway into a 50km ride. It got me thinking. I ride to be healthy. I ride to maintain my middle age weight. I ride coz it’s good for me. I ride coz I can. I ride coz it’s free. I ride coz it’s freedom. There are time I don’t feel like riding. I can prepare, fuel my body, ensure my bikes in good order; yet if I don’t get out & ride it counts for nothing. Knowledge alone cannot and will not bring about change.

Academics and industry specific experts would have us believe that science, evidence and data are the essence of improvement, advancement and progression. It’s true that there is merit in monitoring, reviewing and tracking specific indicators that indeed can enhance and explain performance. Yet, motivation, persistence and sheer stubborn determination remain a mystery. The handle of hope after a fall from grace, a failure in business or relationship or the bruising of ego following a demotion or retrenchment can leave an individual questioning confidence, capacity and sense of identity and worth. Therein lies some of the mystery of being human that goes beyond measurement. 

Resilience and overcoming adversity are closely aligned. The more adversity one faces the greater the capacity to overcome and build resilience. Whether it’s a teenager confronted by social exclusion; or worse, bullying; an employee constantly overlooked for promotion or those on the dating merry-go-round going on yet another possibility, there resides an ounce of hope that things will change for the better. 

Mindfulness teaches us to BE HERE NOW. Accepting our circumstances, status, limitations as well as our dreams & hopes provides the platform for change. Denial of our thoughts & feelings simply perpetuates the dynamo of resistance. Acceptance & persistence facilitate change. The art of trying…again. 

Beyond broken…was it worth it?

Anytime we embark on a new venture, whether it be in business, job, sport, hobby, study, relocation or relationship we have times we look back and pose the question “was it worth it?”

Question-asking is important. Questions help explore, unpack, uncover and dig deeper beyond what presents itself as obvious. Questions can be comforting “How are you coping?” Questions can be inquisitive “I was wondering…” Questions can be creative “If there was one thing you’d love to be doing…” Questions can be confronting “What were you thinking?” Questions can give voice to the mysterious “What the hell is going on here?” Questions can be asked of questions “Why is that important?”

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Beyond broken…life lessons from my bar fridge

I hate throwing things away – not that I hoard, but I’d rather reshape, repair or re-purpose than simply go out and replace. It’s why I love restoring old furniture – giving it new life. It’s a core value that I seek to hold true.

My fridge died. My lawn mower died. My dryer died. All within weeks of each other. There were moments of exasperation “You’ve got to be kidding me!”; “You can’t be serious!” and “WTF!?!?!”

Reality is things have a lifespan.   Continue reading

Beyond broken…arising from the ashes Part 1.

2016 commenced with such high hopes, dreams and sense of belonging. At first glance life appeared great but the looming loss lurking below the fragility of the surface was soon broken like a croc lunging from the depths.

What did I learn from a year that nearly destroyed me?

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Re-Recovery.

Same same, but different. Recovery isn’t about recapturing what once was. Things are forever changed. Recovery is perhaps a reflection of what was, maybe a shadow overlooking new horizons or a looking-glass-lease lamenting loss…recovery is about capturing, somehow, the essence of learnings of long ago and leaning into the new. To recover is to continue towards growth from whatever seeds of destruction were sown.

Americana Injustica

cut throat as it comes

As a survivor, I can say that the word “recovery” gets thrown around an awful lot in the medical community, be it in regard to surgery, mental instability and/or impairment, a plethora of varying ailments and illnesses, and of course – alcohol and illegal drug addiction; we hear the word used to describe our economic status from time to time; we hear “recovery” used as a term to describe what occurs during police raids and hostage situations – in the context of anything from tangible assets, to living, breathing human beings. We hear the word used mostly in a productive element, as opposed to a dark or terrifyingly surreal one; the sound of the word “recovery” evokes a sense of upward motion or a confirmation of something’s very existence.
For me, hearing the word so often created a void of meaning, in the human context, at least. I’ve met too…

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TSOTLS Ch6 – Feelings follow behaviour

Emotions are neither right, nor wrong. They just are. The one truth is that we cannot deny their existence. They is what they is and that’s that.

So why is it that we so frequently look for ways to numb, discount, deny or deprive our emotions? Can we trust our feelings? Continue reading

TSOTLS Ch5 – Any relationship is under the control of the person who cares the least.

While it takes two people to create a relationship, it takes only one to end it.

Livingston explores and examines the power struggles that arise in marriages in this thought-provoking chapter.

Instead of focussing on the presenting issues like money, children or sex, he digs deeper to highlight that “the underlying causes are usually diminished self-respect and unmet expectations” summarising that “one party typically feels and expresses less affection and respect than the other”.

 

“It is discouraging to see a couple about to join their lives acting like purchasers of used cars. We require contracts from people we do not trust; they protect us against those we fear will take advantage of us.”

Livingston concludes with these words: “The ground for disappointment and betrayal is prepared. An act of supreme optimism, courage, or foolishness, depending on your point of view, is encouraged to pursue its hopeful course, and the Ghost of Christmas Future is silent.”

Stephen Covey emphasised that one of the keys to success is to begin with the end in mind. I’m preparing an u/18 basketball team for a Grand Final this coming weekend. As their coach my emphasis has been on strengths, success and self-determination with my mantra – “Play with Freedom, not with fear.” My son laughed and called me the Dalai Lama as I sat on a basketball with the team huddled around me at the end of training – “yet another life lesson from dad”.

It would be foolish as a coach to condition the team for losing, for failure, for mistakes. Whilst the outcome is largely out of my control, as I stand on the sidelines I remain influential by staying engaged and involved.

There is no doubt that Livingston can attest to the emerging and repeating patterns of marital breakdown.  And certainly the statistics in the Aussie context back this up.

Is Livingston merely hard-hearted? Cynical? Critical? Or honest and real? In my experience he’s spot on! The person who cares least is the one in control.

So where does that leave us, you and me, the ones who care? Do we remain guarded, self-protective, and always withholding a part of ourselves for fear of being on the receiving end?  True, that is an option. We could choose to become the ones who care-less, but what if that means we become inauthentic to our very self?

Multiple voices express the notion in various forms that it is better to have loved and lost, that life itself is found most fulfilling when we experience the ideal “to love and be loved”.  Is this mere romantic rainbow-clad sentimentality?

Anyone who has had their heart broken, (and lets face it, who hasn’t!) knows the pain, anguish and self-questioning that results.  Am I not loveable? Is there something wrong with me? Did I give too much? Did I make a poor choice of partner in the first place?

There is no doubt I’m a hope-full romantic at heart, but I confess that I struggle to see hope in someone being there for me long-term and I ask myself – have our Western consumerist appetites eaten away our own hearts for successfully enjoying long-term loving relationships?

At times like this finding solace in friendships, family, healthy routines and things we are good at and find enjoyment in become important stabilisers when life beings to spin as our hearts weep.  Ultimately though, we must come to a place of being able to look ourselves in the mirror and whilst grieving, accept the loss of love, and take hold of the hope that love will come around again.

Love is not about control. It is not about who’s deserving. It’s not about being worthy.  We so often mistake love for what we receive, how we feel, what we get…yet love is about giving, sacrifice, being other-centred. Only we have charge over those choices. Love with freedom, not with fear. 🙂