Category Archives: self-development

Conscious Authenticity

via Daily Prompt: Authentic

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Sunset at Uluru, one of my many favourite photos of the rock, taken last year. Uluru is a well known Aussie icon. Primarily it is an indigenous sacred site, but in a broader sense it is a well known visual associated with Australia as a country. For us Uluru is as authentic as it gets for an icon, along with the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. But Uluru is a natural wonder. The icons created by human endeavour are sleek, well designed and engineered, repaired and maintained. But Uluru was forged through time, weathered, beaten by the elements, sometimes shedding its skin as layers peeled off. It is old and wise and has many stories to tell, It has scars and wounds to show beneath its grandeur and striking presence.

We are a little like that. Forged through time, we grow and develop, mature. Along the way we are a little weathered, and beaten by the elements. And there are, perhaps, times when we psychologically shed our skin. We may well feel our age, but not many of us would admit to being wise – usually that is a label applied by others who experience us, and yet, in my experience,  every person carries a wisdom of their own. And we certainly have many stories to tell, especially because we have wounds and scars that are our story.

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. 
"It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, 
long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you 
become Real.'
 
"Does it hurt?" Asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes." said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 
"When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, 
"or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. 
It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people 
who break easily, or have sharp edges, or have to be carefully kept. 
Generally, by the time yo are Real, most of your hair has been loved 
off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very 
shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are 
real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand. 

Margery Williams Bianco "The Velveteen Rabbit"

Unless we risk love, unless we risk vulnreability, we cannot become, we cannot be, And we cannot be real. The sort of risk I understand is expressed perfectly by the Skin Horse, that we loved and held to the point that we are both hurt and yet whole. But in the main it is our scars and wounds that really make us. They don’t define us, they help make us, help us to become, help us to grow and be authentic.

To be authentic isn’t to be a thing, to be some predetermined you, to be ‘someone’. Authenticity doesn’t come down from the heavens, it isn’t randomly assigned to you. To be authentic is to simply be the you you already are. But you can’t be that person unless you risk the scars and wounds of living, it is a slow thing, it takes a long time, but it is to have lived and to have been real.

As Brene Brown has said: “Authenticity is not something we have or don’t have. It’s a practice – a conscious choice of how we want to live. Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”

I really like that, “Life is a collection of choices.”  and, that it is “a practice, a conscious choice.” Authenticity is something we can do.

Paul,

pvcann.com

24 Comments

Filed under bush walking, Country, life, mindfulness, psychology, quote, self-development, Uluru 17

Be Your Own Genie

via Daily Prompt: Genie

No fancy urns to rub for me, Just Bowie’s Genie, the Gene Genie.

Seems strange that it was so long ago, 1972, and written while Bowie was in New York. Bowie always claimed that the main character Jean was loosely based on Iggy Pop and that the context was an imagined Americana. But he later suggested the name was a play on the name Jean Genet, the French thief who turned writer and political activist. Whichever of the two or both, Iggy Pop or Jean Genet certianly fit the song’s protagonist. The song was a minor hit at the time reaching No. 2 in the UK and 71 on Billboard in the US, but became a cult hit thereafter.

The story around the song and the video clip made for it, the time in Bowie’s life – being in New York and hanging with the Warhol crowd, all add to the song and its deeper meaning. The lyrics contain a sense of 60s, especially “let yourself go.” For me the song contains a sense of yearning for what might be. The abiding question that sits there is – what might happen if you let go? The song implies anything might happen, there’s also an edge to it that hints danger ahead, the Genie isn’t all good – “Sits like a man, but he smiles like a reptile.” The word frisson comes to mind. So, letting go includes risk.

And isn’t that the human condition? We want to let go, but we fear the risk? We might even imagine that new landscape of our lives, but we refuse to even let our eyes glimpse even a shadow of it. Fear is the most crippling feeling, it comes from the primitive brain, the one that tells us when to run, when it’s dangerous, but it can unfortunately overide the other parts of the brain, the logical, the creative, the reflective, and deny what they are saying. Sometimes we can be paralysed by fear. It takes a lot of work to undo what the primitive brain says, especially if we have learned to give it room.

That’s why so many books have been written on retraining the brain, it can be done, but it takes time to let go. Be your own genie, realise your wishes, let go.

“Learning to let go should be learned before learning to get. Life should be touched, not strangled. You’ve got to relax, let it happen at times, and at others move forward with it. It’s like boats. You keep you keep your motor on so you can steer with the current. And when you hear the sound of the waterfall coming nearer and nearer, tidy up the boat, put on your best tie and hat, smoke a cigar right up to the moment you go over. That’s a triumph.”  (Ray Bradbury, Farewell Summer)

Besides, what’s the worst thing that could happen?

Now where’s my best tie and hat?

Paul,

pvcann.com

8 Comments

Filed under life, music, quote, self-development

Shine On You Cranks

via Daily Prompt: Crank

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I found cranks fascinating. They have the role of enabling movement in an engine. I really enjoyed drawing one in my high school art class, there was something about the smooth, machined metal, the shadows, its inherent strength, and above all, the fact that it was oddly shaped, offset. I used to see them as bent out of shape. Which is part of the the word’s origin: from the middle low German it gives us wrinkle, and in Dutch it gives us crinkle. So that out of shape look is also the origin of its name.

Of course there are parallels in human behaviour. If you’re labelled a crank it might be that you’re grumpy, or that you have very strange ideas, or behaviour.

What I get from that is that we’re all a bit of a crank. Ever since the 70s we have accepted that we’re all on a spectrum, no one is perfect, and we all have some behavioural oddities, imperfections, obsessions, phobias, anxieties … who hasn’t had some wacky idea they’ve clung too, who hasn’t exhibited weird behaviour at some point – and who are you to say you haven’t? By whose measurement or definition can you evade the spectrum of life?

So, there are two sides to crank, we have both the capacity to drive something, to turn something, and we have the capacity to be difficult, grumpy or odd. At our core we’re all a bit bent, but yet it is our very bentness that gives us possibilities.

Some famous creative types who were also deemed a bit odd, and who also fascinated me would include Byron, Shelley, The Earl of Rochester – John Wilmot, Baudelaire, Pushkin, Van Gogh, Beethoven, Newton, Poe, Hemingway, Brian Wilson, Syd Barrett … the point being, that sometimes their quirks, oddness, and bentness enabled their creative juice to flow (and sometimes the reverse or both).

You may remember the 2001 movie ‘A Beautiful Mind’ based on the real life story of 1994 Nobel Prize winner and mathematical genius John Nash. Nash suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, and was unwillingly institutionalised several times. He slowly recovered with help, and returned to teaching at Princeton. Nash wasn’t bent in the sense that Byron was bent, but he was not like other people, and in that sense he was of a different order, yet a genius and great contributor to understanding maths.

One of the best autobiographies I’ve ever read is of a woman who battled with schizophrenia when everyone thought it was MS. Elyn R. Saks (‘The Centre Cannot Hold’ London, Virago, 2007) pushed through ilness, institutionalisation, misdiagnosis and more to become a lawyer, and a psychiatrist. It is a truly heart rending story, but also a wonderfully inspiring story.

All of the above were thought to be cranks in the plain sense, that they were just a little mad, and in some ways they were/are. But most simply suffered from a variety of physical and mental ilnesses, which, today, we know is not a barrier to anything (except our judgmentalism perhaps). And, as I stated at the begining, we’re all on some spectrum, along with all of them, so who are we to judge? We’re all a bit mad, a crank, odd in some way. But we all have capacity to shine, to create, to contribute in the simplest ways where we are, sometimes in spite of the things that dog us, and sometimes because of the very things that dog us.

Syd Barrett (1946 – 2006), musically talented, sadly succumbed to psychadelic drug usage, to the point that the other members of Pink Floyd removed him from the band in  The four part song ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ was written to honour Barrett, who had enabled Pink Floyd to move, to create and develop their own style. A truly creative crank.

Paul,

pvcann.com

8 Comments

Filed under creativity, life, mindfulness, self-development

3 Day Quote Challenge

Day Three – Wonder

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“The sense of wonder is our sixth sense.”  D.H. Lawrence

I love the work of D.H. Lawrence, and especially when he is speaking to our inner ability to wonder. Wonderment refreshes the senses, but as Lawrence is suggesting, wonderment is innate in us, it is our ability to see the world through different eyes, eyes that revel in nature, in sunsets, in love, in compassion, in poetry, in simplicity, humility, integrity, passions … Imagine a day without wonder! No? I can’t either, I’d dry up and fade, besides I have jawdropping moments of wonderment daily. for me wonderment is a key to my creative flourishing, the juice of passion.

My nominations for today:

Soudip Ghosh

A Canvas To Describe Feelings

Sgeoil

Paul,

pvcann.com

4 Comments

Filed under life, mindfulness, self-development, Spirituality

Disrupt Yourself

via Daily Prompt: Disrupt

There’s a whole movement out there that began a few years ago. Some names you may be familiar with are Jay Samit or Whitney Johnson, their TEDx Talks are well known in business circles. These talks on disrupting yourself are mostly applied in the context of marketing, designing, entrepreneurship, or general business leadership. Kate Canales, another TEDx presenter, does give another slant (and with good humour too), that the change we bring to our lives is indicative of potential in all areas of our lives.

Disrupting ourselves is not simple, we are creatures of habit. Who enjoys change? (Well, actually I do, mostly) Most people find they enjoy routines and patterns, I must confess I find many routines deadening. Though it is true to say, no one could sustain unrelenting change, that would equate to chaos, nihilism. Research shows we used to enjoy set television viewing patterns, now we choose online, delay or download. Work used to revolve around set timetables. Study was a regime or intent. Some of these things have been disrupted as technology has changed how we work and study, and whether we watch Netflix or still hire DVDs or watch TV. Over Fifty years there has been a dramatic shift in values and expectations, rights, and social behaviour. Point is, we are often forced to change, we rarely choose to change. The point Canales is making is, we will be presented with opportunities of all sorts for innovation and change, but what will we do?

Canales and others are simply trying to encourage us to look at ourselves and to be prepared to take those chances and risks that are at our core – our passions, driving force, creativity, desire, gift, and go for it. Must we wait for change to be forced?

When we disrupt ourselves, we break patterns and routines, past mind maps and the like, we set ourselves free. A sobering quote I’ve loved for years says it well: “A rut is a grave with the ends kicked out.” (attributed to Earl Nightingale) Life is to be embraced, engaged, and lived into in all the mess we are and all the potential we offer. When was the last tine you made a change in your life?

But perhaps disruption and change are not what they seem anyway. Carl Jung said: “In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.” This was popularised through Chaos Theory, that all disorder has an explanation. And isn’t that why we say, “It was meant to be” when strange or unplanned things happen, recognising that there is indeed something ordered even in disruptions, changes, or chaos? Isn’t that why we say “It’s a crazy world” recognising we don’t have complete power over everything? If there is no default control switch, no default pattern, what are you waiting for?? Disrupt yourself and set a new course.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

 

11 Comments

Filed under creativity, life, mindfulness, Philosophy/Theology, quote, self-development

Thwart Across, Side to Side

via Daily Prompt: Thwart

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These boats have timber seats, planks thwart the boat. Otherwise known as thwart seats because they cross from side to side. They are a seat , but only rudimentary, their true purpose is to act as a reinforcing brace that helps provide a rigidity to the boat’s frame, so a thwart seat is a double-bonus, seat and brace in one.

I came to this example of thwart while at the same time I had been reflecting on forgiveness. The more common understanding of thwart is to obstruct, to stymie, or block someone or an action. When we don’t or won’t forgive, then we thwart ourselves, we block ourselves.

There are many serious quotes on forgiveness, one that I like is from the Greater Good magazine from UC Berkeley: “Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.” The upshot of this is that we unblock when we forgive, we help and enable ourselves to move on from the anger and pain. So forgiveness is about ourselves and not the other. When I forgive, the other may never know, but in the act of forgiving, even from afar, I am indeed releasing the anger, the revenge and the pain, I’m stepping away from the negative. And as a result I feel better, whole. And sometimes that enables me to reframe a relational conflict and bring healing into it, so that there can be reconciliation. Again, that’s because I have done the work in myself, I am transformed and able to meet the other, to enable the other, as such it is a double-bonus.

Forgiveness is not unlike the thwart seat, it spans from one side of a relationship to another, it bridges opinion and blockage, and most importantly, forgiveness supports me, and helps to hold me together when I’d rather take negative attitudes or actions. Without the thwart seat of forgiveness in our lives there is nowhere to place ourselves in conflict that has any positive way forward. As vessels we are fragile beings and we really do need forgiveness to be able to reconcile, heal and grow. Forgiveness is a gift to our selves, and yet also to the other, even though they may never know. Forgiveness strengthens us.

Paul,

pvcann.com

21 Comments

Filed under beach, boats, life, mindfulness, psychology, self-development

You Haul

via Daily Prompt: Haul

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That day! Moving out of home for the second time, this time permanently. The solemn art of leaving one family to start another. 1983, and the year Lyn and I got married, left Perth, and went to live on the family farm. The trailer we are loading is not a U-Haul by brand but a Coates Hire Service – Move It. But a U-Haul by any other name. Looking back it was a fun day really, and we hauled a lot of gear in a couple of trailers and my panel van, and it was trouble free.

What we weren’t fully in tune with at that point was that we were hauling other stuff as well, what we loosely refer to as emotional baggage. And that took time, patience, awareness, deep listening and support to release. Empathy won out and the baggage has somewhat reduced.

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The stored painful realites and fictions of life can be a massive burden if not acknowledged, spoken and released. Carrying alone can be crushing. Charles Dickens once said: “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to everyone else.” We can’t carry another’s baggage, we can’t make someone drop theirs, but we can share in lightening that baggage through empathic support. There’s that old saying, that it takes a village to raise a child. I think it takes a patient village, a friendship or two,  to help us see the baggage and to begin to let go.

Paul,

pvcann.com

10 Comments

Filed under community, life, love, mindfulness, psychology, self-development

Frigid or Just Unheard?

via Daily Prompt: Frigid

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Photo: http://www.cleverdicc.com

 

There is such a confusion and misrepresentation around this word, instead of being an adjective, it has become a poisonous weapon.

Frigid was, in my learning and memory, principally a word to describe extreme cold. It described being out in the snow, or the wind chill factor in winter, or the bodily reaction to cold water. Who could forget the US giant Frigidaire and the heavy marketing of the 70s and 80s across the world? Their campaign aimed at Australia was one of turning extreme heat successfully in cool temps.

Somewhere, sometime, someone in history used the word frigid to describe women who weren’t deemed sexually responsive. Nothing, I note about men, though if you are keen you eventually find the references to men as frigid as well, but historically it has been used to describe women, because, well, only women could be dysfunctional – as if the planet were so bifurcated, ridiculous thought, but purely old school male thinking. The word was used in the sense that the woman was icy, frosty, frozen shut, cold hearted, incapable of warm response, and so on.

What it denies, is the reality, like all cheap put-downs. A woman, or man, who is (possibly) unresponsive may well be just exhausted. They may be lacking empathy, warmth, connection, romance, validation, equality. They may feel used, objectified, enslaved, robotic. They could well be feeling taken for granted, or stuck in a rut. There is no end to the possibility of why anyone might be (mis)judged as frigid. Australian academic Jill Matthews in her seminal work “Good and Mad Women” shows how women who failed to live up to male or societal (thus male) expectations were deemed mad, and some (too many) were incarcerated in institutions for the mentally ill, and in recent history!

Researcher and therapist John Gottman makes it clear that through his institute’s research over three decades, they have discovered that the real key to any problem is communication. Trivial as that may sound, I believe that in a non-defensive and mindful moment you will find that to be true, if you reflect openly you will know that it comes down how you perceive, how you think, how you respond, often without reference to the other. Gary Chapman, another therapist founded his focussed work on love language and communication which became his best seller “The Five Love Languages.” Clearly, communication is the centre of relational issues, not “I’m right, you’re wrong” or “You need fixing, but I’m good.” To call someone frigid is to hide behind a projection, an intent to wound or put down, a way of controlling another, a way of making oneself look good by comparison (the death of most relationships). It is an avoidance of one’s own part in relationship at the expense of the other, and in some cases becomes abusive.

The upshot of research is that most men don’t listen, I mean really listen, that active listening. If it comes down to sex, and it doesn’t really, solely sit there, it goes back to expectations, often unrealistic and selfish expectations.

Watch your expectations! Don’t hide your own shortcomings behind the other, and check your communication skills.

Just to give you an insight into Gottman’s insightful work:

Paul,

pvcann.com

9 Comments

Filed under life, love, mindfulness, psychology, Science, self-development, Sex, Therapy

I Churn For You

via Daily Prompt: Churn

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Image from b-i.forbesimg.com

Lyn’s parents left us a milk separator, and butter paddles, there was even an old milk churn in the shed, but no butter churn. Milk separators do just that, separate the cream/butter fat from the milk. Milk churns are misnamed in my view – they’re just a large metal container for transporting milk. Butter paddles and butter churns do something else, they turn the butter fat from the milk into actual butter, they produce something.

Emotionally we churn. Surely you’ve heard the term butterflies in the stomach, a reference to mild worry. I don’t make a habit of it, my stomach rarely churns, but there are those rare occasions. If I’m going to churn it will be heights. I was fearful of flying, and my first few flights were nerve wracking, but I’m getting better at it. I engaged with abseiling, that was certainly nerve wracking, but I found I could even enjoy it. But with each activity, the night before I would be churning, worrying, mulling it over. By the morning I was no better, often exhausted from all the useless churning because my sleep had been interrupted or prevented by all the worry. Now it’s different, I find a mindful approach is helpful.

All the ancient cultures and religions relate strong emotional fellings to the stomach, hence the term “I have a gut feeling.” A churning stomach is, for many, a far too regular experience. Churning stomach often results from anxiety and stress. While the habit in days gone by (in the West) was to prescribe something, eventually there was a realization that worry was different to stomach ailments or sickness. A churning stomach is simply the body getting our attention that we need to make some adjustments to whatever the body is registering.

The ancient cultures and religions, (and now) modern medicine, suggest more simple, even commensense remedies to help end the churning: Adjusting diet (reducing sugar, caffeine and alcohol, other stimulants, large meals in general), exercising, and ensuring adequate sleep. In addition, and more importantly, a mindful approach is beneficial: adjust your breathing (awareness, calm breathing), relaxation, reduce stress (awareness), meditate, rest, and adjust whatever it is that is the cause of your churning. If we don’t take steps to adjust and change, then why expect anything to be different? For me, rest, creativity (simply writing or painting is a wonderful reframing), exercise, and meditation make all the difference. Stop, breathe, reframe, and arrest the churn.

Paul,

pvcann.com

6 Comments

Filed under Farm, life, meditation, mindfulness, psychology, religion, self-development

Explore

via Daily Prompt: Explore

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One of my shots of Jindalee (Giles Breakaway). The Great Central Road and the roads that intersect it, the places along the way, have well and truly been traversed over two hundred years of exploration, mineral exploration, pastoral leases and tourism. But for us (Lyn, Su, Geoff) it was a time of exploration – it was the first time we’d been out there. As I looked out across to the east of the breakaway, I wondered what visual and geographic delights lay beyond. I was happy to camp for a time and explore the breakaway, and even happier to drive on into our unknown and see what was up ahead.

That has been my life up to this moment, that inner exploration. For me there is always that interesting intersection of living in the present moment, savouring the past for the treasure it has yielded, and looking to the next step, yearning to grow, to be more fully present, more in the experience, less attached to the material. Keeping the balance is the key, learning to love the past without clinging to it, rejoicing in the real now, and embodying the tension of possibility in tomorrow without trying to make it happen. I have worked hard at begining to let go the past, and I don’t always plan tomorrow, in fact, it is often said of me that I like to live in chaos – creative chaos I might add! Progress, though I smile, it comes with age and experience. Yet one must attend, be aware.  Even so, it is still a great achievement when I can just be in the present moment, and today, for a time, was just one of those moments. It always takes my breath away, and I am grateful for it.

I am one of life’s explorers, a soul on a journey of self discovery. I hope you are too.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

12 Comments

Filed under bush walking, Country, environment, life, mindfulness, nature, self-development, Spirituality