Category Archives: self-development

Self-reflection

Mirror – 5 Lines

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Photo: cdn.notonthehighstreet.com

 

Self-reflect

Mirror, mirror on the wall, help me discern my noble call
who am I, I desire to know, I’ve read a lot and talked till dawn.
I’ve roamed the world and compassed wide,
but in the end experience shows that
reflexive praxis deeply speaks.

©Paul Cannon

 

Never, ever discount soul companions or journalling in deep reflection on life and direction.

 

Paul Cannon,

pvcann.com

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Filed under Five Lines, life, mindfulness, poetry, self-development

That Place

Debilitate – Word of the Day

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Debilitating

To be held prisoner in
that place we dare not speak its name,
that dark tower
with manacles of indecision,
and misguided discernment.
Plausible voices of “what if”,
the self-flagelation of inaction.
That tower where my heart is
captive to my doubting mind.

©Paul Cannon

 

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under life, mindfulness, poetry, Quadrille, self-development, Uncategorized

John Adams

Independence – Word of the Day

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Eurasian Coot, Big Swamp, Bunbury. Alone again, naturally. This one had set a course for herself, away from the others.

The stories of other nations and communities are always interesting to me, how they evolved and what are some of the key historical points that have become the DNA of the nation, and who are some the characters in nation building.

It is July 4th, the celebration for Americans of their independence from Britain. One of the things that always intrigues me, is the story within the story. Eventual political independence came as a result of independent people. One such person was John Adams (1735 – 1826).

Britannica.com describes Adams and his wife Abigail as fiercely independent. Adams was an early advocate for independence. His father had hoped he’s follow in his shoes as a church minister. Adams trained with that in view, but on graduation from Harvard spent three years teaching at a grammar school. He eventually determined to do law, and set up practice in Boston. It was while in Boston that his independence came to public prominence. Eight British soldiers had fired on a crowd in Boston – the Boston Massacre -and were on trial for murder. John Adams decided to defend them. He believed that they had the right to legal representation (and for a fee no doubt), and his view was that the soldiers had been provoked. While it was an unpopular thing to do it showed that Adams was a principled person, and it also showed that Adams was one who could think and act independently.

In 1765 Adams wrote a dissertation against the Stamp Act, He went on to oppose the Townsend Act (import duty). In 1774 he was elected to the delegation to represent Massachusetts at the First Continental Congress. In 1775 he published his “Novanglus” essays arguing that Britain had no right to legislate for the colony. He attended the Second Continental Congress in 1776, and was nicknamed “The Atlas of independence” surely an irony? He dominated debate and made crucial nominations – George Washington as comander of the Continental Army; and Thomas Jefferson to draft the Declaration of Independence. His list of achievements is long, and include a term as ambassador in both France and England, two terms as Vice President, and one term as President. While his political philosophy is much debated and some of his views unpopular, Adams has been hailed as a patriot and revolutionary who spurred a colony to nationhood.

No matter what you think of him, you can’t deny that he was indeed and independent thinker and activist who worked for the nation’s own independence. Perhaps in that light we might say that America’s independence is an outworking of the independent-mindedness of its founders, especially John Adams. I note though, that Adams was not a one-man-band, he ably delegated, deffered, and encouraged others to do their bit, not wanting to hog the limelight, but rather to share it. Independence doesn’t mean solo, or maverick, though it doesn’t exclude those labels those labels are not the principal defining behaviours, it means appropriate dependence and independence in synergy. A bit like co-dependency is not all bad, we all have a positive level of dependence and co-dependece in our lives, if we didn’t we’d have sterile relationships and bland communities and not a lot would get done. We also need a positive level of independence in our lives too, without it we are not an identity, just a name, alone. I like to think I have a bit of John Adams in me, an independent thinker and activist, but also one who can function in and for community. I hope you do to.

many fine new branches
a multitude of blossom
the trunk is solid

©Paul Cannon

Paul,

pvcann.com

30 Comments

Filed under community, Haiku, history, life, mindfulness, politics, self-development

Take Courage

Exposure – Word of the DayIMG_0134.jpg

Augusta, the town jetty, and Blackwood River rising.

Fortunately we had raincoats and we knew the rain was coming, but nonetheless, with the wind whipping the rain along, and the cold air pressing in, we felt more than a little exposed. But, because we were prepared we enjoyed the walk. The tide was very high as predicted by the Weather Bureau. There was also a lot of flow from up-river after three major rain bearing fronts have been through and local flooding was expected. You can’t tell from the photo but the timber decking of the jetty looked as if it was floating as the water was touching the underside. We haven’t seen it like that for a while.

Weather exposure can be very serious, hypothermia or sunstroke, the risks are great if you’re not prepared. Preparation means covering up, sunblock, hats, raincoats, warm clothes, appropriate footwear. So that whatever the weather we put on what is necessary to be comfortable and to protect ourselves. However, we know not to wear winter gear in summer and vice versa, and usually we’re good at that.

We’re not so good with emotional exposure. We’re trained, or we train ourselves, to overprotect, and sometimes we wear the wrong emotional gear, like using the mask of happiness to cover depression, or the mask of confidence to cover fear. Rarely do we let others in, we become invulnerable, strong, a veritable fortress. Yet the best possible way forward, the only true way to wholeness is to trust others with our inner world. Of course, it goes without saying, you don’t grab a megaphone and announce your life to the world, but there are people in our lives we can talk to, take off our masks, and be vulnerable with.

As Brene Brown has said many times, in our society vulnerablity, to be exposed, is to be seen as weak. Brown counters this with “vulnerability is our greatest measure of courage.” Brown defines vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.” It is an opening of the self to another, whereby empathy becomes the healing counterpoint or the supportive staging point, depending on what we are going through. Brown’s research is thorough, and in it she discovered that every courageous act was underpinned by vulnerability. That tells me that we can only really flourish when we are able to speak our truth and take off our masks and be real with others, then we are whole and not just pieces or segments. The fortress life may serve us well but to really floursih we need to let the drawbridge down from time to time, otherwise we not only defend ourselves against the outsider, we imprison ourselves from the world. I’d rather be open than be a captive! Take courage.

cherry tree winter bare
cold has stunted many new buds
the wild branch has fruit

©Paul Cannon

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Fawlty Rage

Conniption – Word of the Day

The wonderful thing about comedy, especially satire, is that it tells the story of what is really going on inside. Take this scene from Fawlty Towers. John Cleese in conniptions, ranting at his car which has broken down (because he hasn’t had it serviced, he’s been avoiding the responsibility – which is a major theme in the show) and he, naturally,  blames the car. It speaks to the times we have been frustrated with our car or similar object. Computer perhaps? It reminds us that we sometimes internally rant, we might also mentally pick up a branch and thrash the car, threatening it to get it to start. We might not physically do it but we think it, well, some of us might, and that’s why satire is so funny, we know it.

One of the main points of Fawlty Towers is that Cleese’s character Basil is constantly feeling victimised, or frustrated, by others. His blind spot is that he cannot see that it is his own behaviour that is his downfall, not the behaviour of others. His lack of attention to detail, his choice of builder, his innability to get the car serviced on time, his failure to prepare for a health inspection and etc. etc. The show was also an outworking of the therapeutic relationship between John Cleese and his therapist Robin Skynner (1922 – 2000). Skynner was a family therapist and specialised in communication process, Fawlty Towers deals with communication issues in a number of relationships, and looks at self deception, as well as our unwillingness to deal with our own stuff.

Conniptions, rage, hissy fits, whatever, we deceive ourselves if we don’t look deeper and own the roots of our frustration or anger. Why beat the car if we’ve failed to take it to the dealer for its scheduled service? Why blame others when the fault lies with ourselves? (Of course there are a number of well honed answers and a body of research to answer those question) The beginning of conniptions is the time to take stock and attend before damage is done to a relationship, or the car,  besides, beating the car verbally or physically (or a person, heaven forbid!) won’t work. Dealing with our own stuff does actually  work.

the wind buffets
branches madly flail about
but stillness bears fruit

©Paul Cannon

Paul,

pvcann.com

8 Comments

Filed under Haiku, life, mindfulness, psychology, self-development, Therapy

Scale Back

RDP – #31 Scale

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Looking through some of the online resource for anger scales I did laugh out loud. One set has “Call 911” which is dramatic, another had “Stop!” I mean, who’s going to just stop? Wouldn’t you have already done that if it were possible? The last thing you’d want to say to an angry person is “Just Stop.” That’s likely to further frustrate the angry person. By far the most concerning are those scales that say “Out of Control.” After all the work of the seventies to get people to see that anger is a feeling and that the feeling is not an issue of control, but rather an issue of being aware and attending to it, we’re still inducing fear of anger.

Actions that stem from anger are not the feeling themselves, they are a form of expression, anger looking for a form of outward expression. It would be wise to say put down the sharp object to an angry person, but not – stop being angry or control yourself.

It took a long time in human development to arrive at the idea that feelings are okay, they are simply feelings and that feelings are neither right or wrong – they just are. The other bomshell was that no one makes you angry – a very hard concept for some people to grasp, especialy as we often want to locate the rise of the feeling in someone or something and apportion blame. People can be irritating, there’s no doubt, but how we respond to them is actualy up to us, how we work in our feelings is up to us. We are all responsible for ourselves when it comes to feelings.

Anger is something we can work with. Numerous professionals in the field of counselling have written about how anger is an energy that can be transformed into positive action, and that results in our transformation from anger to reasonable. But by far the best way to transform anger is to reframe. By talking to someone, using I statements (I’m annoyed when I can’t … I’m angry when you say …), naming the feeling and acknowledging it. Naming it simply opens us to reflection, and doing that helps us with perspective, we reframe our situation and look on our feelings and process it, most often stepping back. Overall, I find meditation and reflection really help in my equilibrium.

One of the best resources I’ve encountered in recent years has been Pixar’s “Inside Out.”

 

flames sear my heart
my head is thrumming with noise
mantra is joyful

©Paul Cannon

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

18 Comments

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Meh?

Meh – Word Of The Day

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I’ve had a great day today, so it’s meh to meh. However, as an anagram, hem will do.

Hem carries two meanings or tones, the first is to hem a garment, as in the hem of the shorts in the photo, or hemming curtains to make them look complete and drop properly. Secondly, hem can also be about restraint, not just in stitching, but in being held back, trapped, pinned, stopped. People feel hemmed in if they’re on a tight schedule that seems impossibe to complete, stuck in a role they don’t like, or if they’re in a room and cannot easily break through the throng of people. In claustrophobia it is that feeling of being trapped in a confined space and the fear of no escape.

Phobias are helped by therapy, sewing by those who know how, but feelings, well they’re down to us. The feeling of being hemmed in is surely a time to take stock, to talk to a confidant and tease the feeling out, to prioritise and make adjustments in the daily, time to self care. Feelings just are, they’re never meh, but they are always a communique to take note and take steps. Feelings, especially those that alert us to pressure, are the best time to be mindful.

“If you have no power, talk about your influence. If you have power, talk about the constraints that hem you in.”  Mason Cooley

like a spider's web
gossamer-like I'm tied
meditation frees

©Paul Cannon

Paul,

pvcann.com

19 Comments

Filed under Haiku, life, mindfulness, psychology, quote, self-development

The Other “I”

Doppelganger

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(Image by Toby Dixon: found at https://i.pinimg.com)

The term alter ego was first used by the Roman philosopher, lawyer and statesman, Cicero. Cicero described a second self or other self, he used it to describe his close friend and trusted advisor Atticus, saying in a letter to him: “You are a second brother to me, an alter ego to whom I can tell everything.”

But alter ego has also been used to describe something else, a person who has a second self which is distinct and separate from the person’s true original self, they literally live a double life. Or put differently, the alter ego is a differnt version of you, it is another “I.”

We can see this in David Bowie/Ziggy Stardust, Barry Humphries/Dame Edna Everage, Ernest Hemmingway/Nick Adams. In the dark sense this is Jekyll and Hyde, or Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. In the hero sense this Spider Man/Peter Parker, Superman/Clark Kent. In the non-fictional sense they are projected or intentional personality, an alternate person, a way to express differntly. In the Fiction sense, it is a person thrust upon you or is derived from circumstantial change. But it can be dark and evil too, the unrecognised me as when the gentleman doctor Jekyll becomes the evil Mr Hyde when he takes a particular potion.

There is in some of this a hint of the shadow as described by Carl Jung where he talks about the shadow as being an unknown dark side of the personality, the unacknowledged, rejected least desirable aspects of oneself, manifests in dreams, and also comes out in the things we see clearly in others (ego, controlling behaviour, manipulative behaviour, fantasies, greed, lust). Shadow feeds the ego.

We all have a shadow, and some of us have alter egos, and some of those are dark. My late father was wonderful, caring, helpful, George in public and jealous, angry parent and husband in the home. I think we all have a bit of Darth Vader in our Skywalker. But if that is true, we also then have a bit of Skywalker in our Vader, depends where you’re standing and how you’re feeling, it’s never black or white. It gets dark when we fail to recognise who we are and how we are effecting others. It gets better when we acknowledge our other side and we put it to good use and it becomes creative potential (like Bowie).

I very much prefer Cicero’s original use in practice, that my alter ego is a close and trusted journey or soul friend. The twist is, if we have a good journey friend, they will point out to us the short comings of both alter ego, and shadow in due time. I hope you have a good journey friend, I certainly have a few, they are like gold, but a far better investment. Soul friends are the key to unlocking the shadow and pursuing the real me, that’s an alter ego we all need.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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Filed under history, life, mindfulness, psychology, self-development

Love is Infectious

via Daily Prompt: Infect

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My love walking the beach.

When we fall in love there is a chemical cocktail that is released into the body, literally infecting us with those feelings we call love.

Being attracted to another stimulates the body. If you feel elated, over-the-moon, energised, then dopamine has been released in your system. It works for other forms of elation too, winning a prize, gambling, sport, and drugs. Dopamine is the pleasure chemical.

Intimacy, closeness, bonding, means that oxytocin is in your system. Oxytocin is released when it gets physical, all that hugging, holding, kissing, touching, staring into each other’s eyes. Oxytocin calms and eneables intimacy and bonding. Sigh.

If sex is on the menu, then testosterone is in the system of both sexes. Testosterone is higher in males, and higher in male saliva, it is believed that kissing increases desire in both partners. Sex increases testosterone in the system.

Pheromones, those chemical messengers, also play a role in love, our noses are key to how we interact with others.

These chemicals work at the intense falling in love/sexual leel, but they are also released in long term relationships. They also impact in the four types of love, so that family, sibling, pet, and friendship also include feelings of love as these chemicals are released.

They’re the things I want to be infected with, the things of love, the elation, the focus, the bonding, the intimacy, belonging, joy, and the energy. Imagine if that infected the world!

The Beatles sang “All You Need Is Love” it was considered a trite song by many, and way too idealistic, and maybe that’s so, but there’s nothing wrong with poetic aspiration. I really liked then, Iand I like it now. And I beleive that love is all we need to change ourselves, and therefore, in turn, to change the world. It doesn’t seem that difficult.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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

Tree Talk

via Daily Prompt: Forest

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It was inevitable. I was born in Nottinghamshire, UK, and grew up in the midst of forests, and the famous one, Sherwood Forest wasn’t that far away. Migration to Australia brought a different experience of forests, and I have explored several. The writings of John Muir, Robert Frost, Wendell Berry, Judith Wright, Noel Davis, Mary Oliver, and many more, inspired my interest in trees. I worked in horticultural work and farming for a time, and learned so much about how trees are really our family, our life-line, our lungs. I am happy in a forest, which we generally call the bush. In fact I’d say I was a Nemopholist – a haunter of forests.

There’s a famous quote by John Muir that I love: “The clearest way into the universe is through a forest.” I think he’s right!

Forests have something special going on, they form habitat for many creatures, they are a special climate zone, they reduce salinity, and redistribute water, provide shade, timber and many by-products. The trees in a forest also communicate. Dr. Suzanne Simard of the university of Columia studies a type of fungi that forms underground networks between trees.

Older trees or “mother trees” are hubs in this fungal network. The trees communicate across species too, from Acacia to Eucalypt. Signals between trees can now be plotted, especially defence signals, through the build up and movement of enzymes. Tree communication is not a new thing, but study has now begun to show concrete evidence of it. The trees work to protect each other, help each other, feed each other, and look after young trees. So the forest is a series of interconnected families, a set of special relationships.

The forest thrives when there are enough mother trees and when the trees are interconencted. We too thrive when we belong to supportive hubs, and are nurtured by networks that protect, share, and feed us. The fungal network equivalent for us is love, empathy, and compassion, a special climate zone, a vital ecology. With love we thrive, we grow, we bloom, and we develop capacity to give out to others. The human forest needs an ecology of love, else the erosion to loss of community will be devastating.

Gandhi put it well when he said: “What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and one another.”

If we do to ourselves as the trees do to themselves, well, we’d be thriving and not just surviving.

For the article that underpins tree communication here, go to Do Trees Communicate With Each Other?  Its a wonderful read.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

25 Comments

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