The power of YES

On a recent vacation I got into a conversation with a lifelong friend about the Power of YES.

It was a safe place to discuss our points of view….we have been friends since primary school, stood on opposing sides of a debating team, handball court and chess board.

Was I worried about a clash of opinions? Of having to stand my ground, defend my viewpoint with a person known in the business world as ‘ The Terminator’ for their uncanny ability to use wear down the fiercest of opponents in ANY arena.

No I wasn’t…but I knew I was in for a battle ….and debate aside, whatever the outcome…it would leave me questioning my chosen viewpoint – be it different, the same or, heaven forbid, undecided.

Our friendship has stood the test of time….we are very different people, but I believe we share the same outlook on this gift called life, we are here to ‘suck the marrow’ out of it, we just go about this vision at different paces.

If I look back on my 36 years, I have said yes to things, yes to many, many things. I also know that whilst I have said yes to many things, I was often closed-minded to the opportunities  packaged within each experience…preconceived ideas clouded the ability to truly revel in the power of ALL the YES’s I was saying.

With age, I am slowly learning to let go, to feel more at ease and comfortable in my skin, to truly embrace the Yes‘s I say…to savour the moment, the here and now.

With age, I also have come to accept the painful reality that life is oh so short, and I want to make sure that my yes’s are said with conviction, that I apply them with utmost care to the precious time I have on this earth.

I have set criteria for the yes’s I impart –

  • They will involve quality time with life affirming people
  • They will be applied to the everyday and to the grand and opulent.
  • They will provide time for personal reflection and relaxation
  • They will provide opportunities to submerge fully into that which feeds my soul.

From the Great Debate, I took that yes’s are as precious as gems, they cannot be given lightly, and they should not be.

My lifelong friend may disagree, that is OK with me…. we are both ‘sucking the marrow out of life’, just at our own unique pace.

R U Ok Day- 13 September, 2012

R U Ok Day, 2012

R U Ok Day, 2012

Today is R U Ok day- Australia wide

What is R U Ok Day?

 R U OK?Day is a national day of action on the second Thursday of September (dedicated to inspiring all people of all backgrounds to regularly ask each other ‘Are you ok?’

By raising awareness about the importance of connection and providing resources throughout the year, the R U OK? Foundation aims to prevent isolation by empowering people to support each other through life’s ups and downs.

I could not be more passionate about a day such as R U Ok day….I know first hand how important, powerful and life changing those three words can be.

I am an advocate for uttering those three words….

More often than not, when I ask people this questions the response is,’ I am fine’.

That makes me happy and  glad that I asked.

But every once in a while ,someone when asked, will say ‘ I am not fine’.

Then more than ever I feel happy and glad that I asked.

I am learning not to make assumptions about people’s feelings.

Asking questions is the only way to break down assumption.

Three words make this possible : ‘ R U Ok?’

R U Ok…three words that have the power to break down barriers for they provide individual with an opportunity to put a voice  their inner thoughts and feeling and more than happy to listen.

R U Ok day… a day that reminds me of my commitment to continuing to ask these three words and to listen to all responses that come as a result.

R U Ok day website: R U Ok Day

The Art of Listening / The Art of Communication

Friendship Fire starter: something that promotes friendship, encourages a catch up or strengthens a bond between two or more people.

Listening, really listening to someone is hard work.

Communication that is clear and precise…..also hard, hard work.

To be a good listener you have to put aside your personal agenda, feelings and thoughts and tune into that of another.. It is a truly selfless act.

To be a good communicator who have to be in tune with your true self,  your thoughts and feeling. You must also be ‘present’….your mind cannot be in the past or propelling into the future…it must be grounded in the here and now.

This blog post has been written so as to honour all the good listeners and communicator out there….You guys don’t get enough credit!

I am first to admit that I am new to truly listening to the voice of another….For so long I have lived in my head, listening to my own internal dialogue which drowned out the voice of others.

I was so consumed by my inner thoughts, that I could be in a room full of familiar faces, and actively engage in two conversation, one with party guests, the other with the internal chatter in my head.

Crucial to the art of listening to another person, is clear communication. Like the listening notion, I am just jumping on the good communication bandwagon!

I got frustrated on the weekend when, via email communication ( the worst of all mediums!) I felt I was not being listened to or understood. I let the person know, they took my point with a grain of salt…it was an unsatisfying exchange.

It caused me to reflect…In order to be truly heard, you must be able to clearly communicate your thoughts and feelings.

Easier said than done.

Often extreme feelings get in the way, how often have you blown of steam in the heat of an argument with a partner, lost your cool with your small child when they did something you did not approve of, given a friend the cold shoulder when they failed for the third time to show up for a coffee date?

For me, my communication skills have long been hindered by an inability to tune into my true voice. For as long as I can remember,  I have not possessed the courage to express my true thoughts and feeling.

But with awareness comes change.

The email exchange on the weekend, and its unsatisfactory outcome, was more a true reflection of poor communication on my part. I was not clear in how I was truly feeling…I assumed the person would be able to read between the lines…And when they didn’t ‘ get it’ I expressed my disappointment and frustration.

It really bothered me! And after a bit of self reflection and the passing of time, I came to see this email exchange as a gift.

It highlighted the importance of honest communication, using words that truly reflect how you think and feel….Don’t waste words…Choose them wisely a ( again easier said than done)…and when possible, think before you speak, ask yourself ‘ Do these words reflect what I am thinking / feeling?’

Good listening and communication are skills…and we can learn them, improve on the skills we already have…it is possible with practice, patience and commitment.

So why not try it for yourself…Grab a friend, someone in your life who simply gets you….start up that conversation…chew the fat over a cup of tea or coffee…And take time to notice how it feels to converse and listen to one another.

Rewarding, satisfying, frustrating….All of the above? Room for improvement, for growth?? Any tips you can offer me on my journey towards better listening / communicating?

No times for regrets, such as if  only I could have started that email exchange with a bit more honestly…Here’s to next time, and the time after that!!


Johnny Depp is a Gift

Johnny Depp is a gift

And this blog post should now end…You cannot improve on perfection…mere words will fail to capture the beauty, the mystic of Mr Depp

In a week were the sun shone and winter appeared to have taken time off, further brightness was added  by a face book post curtsey of my beautiful friend Rebecca.

Yes, I am a fan of Mr Depp…..have been ever since he appeared in Tim Burton’s ‘ Edward Sissorhands‘…I found him heartbreakingly beautiful in that film, and despite the fact that a hug would have inflicted fatal wounds, I wanted nothing more that to be wrapped up, scissors and all in his arms….

I have followed his career ever since….His numerous collaborations with Burton, most recently in Dark Shadows, and the film he most recently co-produced ‘ The Rum Diaries’…

I read recently that Depp’s career choice to continually play odd balls and outsiders is now too predictable, too safe, too familiar….He has perfected and made his fortune from these roles…Time for something new?

A romantic comedy or period piece?

Personally, I wouldn’t care if Mr Depp co-host National Geographic with David Attenborough and discussed the lifespan of the endangered micro sardine in Sardinia….I would tune it…It would be captivating viewing.

Yes Depp might have fashioned a long acting career around odd ball rolls, but when Scissorhands hit the movie screen’s in the 1990  this piece of cinema was a breath of fresh air….For one, it did not contain Julia Roberts, and secondly, it wasn’t reality based…it was a whimsical fairytale.

At a time when odd ball was neither cool nor particularly profitable….there was Johnny, ghostly pale, scarred face, dressed in a tight leather suit with scissor for hands…

And I loved him for it…

Loose yourself for a minute in the most splendid of scenes from the Edward Scissorhands movie…the music, the passion of Edward to create things of beauty,  the carefree abandon of Kim, Winona Ryders character….

Johnny Depp… very cool, very rich, very handsome….my all time favourite  ‘outsider’

Do you share my love of Johnny Depp? If you do, what is you favourite movie, and why?

Friendship Fire Starters: Compliments

Friendship Fire starter: something that promotes friendship, encourages a catch up or strengthens a bond between two or more people.

This week I received compliments about my writing, and as the quote below by Mark Twain implies, such kind words have made my world brighter….and will continue to do so for some time…

I can live on a good complement for two months.

These compliments came via facebook, email and phone…they made me feel great, 10 feet tall, made an average week awesome…made me aware of the power of kind words and the importance acknowledging the good  in the people we have in our lives.

As I have not asked the people who bestowed such kind words upon me, anonymous they will remain- names withheld:

* I love when I see a CUWAM update ( reference to my blog) and read every one. Please keep writing!

* I do read your escapades every now and then. You are prolific so I can’t sat I catch it all! I do like your honestly, and I know that takes courage so well done.

And prehaps the most magical of all was my future sister-in-law, asking me on the phone to give a reading at their wedding service in June 2012.

* Your writing is beautiful. We would like you to write something and read it on our wedding day

Yikes! Pressure..I thought I would be handed a passage specially chosen my the bride and groom, to read aloud to the 160 strong wedding guests…But no, I will write and read my own creative piece!

The joy I get from writing, it would appear, resonates with others….and that makes me happy, inspires me to keep going

This feeling is universal….Everyone likes to feel like what they do matter, makes a difference, contributes to the happiness and well-being, of not only themselves, but others

So if you see in others something that makes you smile, brightens your day…let that person know, pay them a compliment….

And if you find that your personal efforts go unnoticed…I once more quote Mark Twain : If you can’t get a compliment any other way, pay yourself one

Mark Twain

Friendship Fire Starter: The self bought gift

I have been a bit slack of late….I have lost track of which blog is hosting Write on Wednesdays and my Friendship Fire starter posts have failed to ignite for 3 straight weeks…Time to redeem the situation…

Friendship Fire starter: something that promotes friendship, encourages a catch up or strengthens a bond between two or more people.

To be able to harvest a good friendship, one must first be friends with themselves.

And as it common when you like someone as a friend, you buy them gifts from time to time to remind them of how much joy they bring to your life.

Well, I have turned to focus inward of late, and the gift to be purchased is for me.

In September of last year I was fortunate to be in NYC,  a city that owns a piece of my heart.

A request from a friend back home….to purchase of a piece of Tiffany jewellery. I took to the mission with gusto.

I marched from the Bowery region, lower East side, into the epicentre of the city’s shopping district…to 5th Avenue, the Tiffany flagship store….and with my little Australian credit card purchased the silver necklace for a mate. It was promptly gift wrapped, complete with white bow and  packaged into the signature turquoise shopping bag.

It was then and there that I took the liberty to use the Tiffany’s Lavatories….located on the 4th floor of the store….in a room 10 times the size of my Bowery accommodation. With thoughts of stowing away in the bathroom swirling around my head, I dragged myself from the luxurious surrounds, and re-entered jewellery heaven.

Never if my wildest dreams did I ever think I would purchase something from this jewellery giant…it just ain’t me….But something strange happened on that NYC  autumn day….Call it what you will, the bright lights and  the lure of the big city, the smell of money in the air….I simply had to have a souvenir!!

With much trepidation I scoured a few jewellery displays…and I thank my lucky stars that I was fortunate to be looking at items priced within the $50-$500 USD range…I had been spared the misery of perusing the $30,000 plus item…or maybe security had seen me and deemed me ‘unworthy’ of viewing such jewels.

And like magic, this little piece of silver revealed itself to me:

Tiffany Ring

Tiffany Ring

And here is where the story should end…I should part with the $300 USD and walk away, smiling from ear to ear…Taking no precautionary measures to look my person as  I take to the NY streets, eyes glued to my left hand index finger, gift wrapt with a miniature bow  silver…

But…I did not part with the cash…Rather I left the story and the memory of the ring faded into the background.

Fast forward 6 months….and the Ribbon ring, and the momentary joy it had brought me all those months ago, resurfaced…I HAD TO HAVE IT!!

A visit to the Sydney Tiffany store proved futile, a 6 week waiting list…No, I needed this little gem immediately.

Frantic facebook messaging to a friend on holidays in the US, where the ring could be purchased at a bargain price….also failed to bring me closed to my prize….Not availible in your size came the message via facebook messenger…

And as my cousin prepares to depart on a US / UK holiday, the baton has been passed on yet again…Bring home the Silver ring Cousin…My happiness depends on it!!

And if you have stayed with this post to this point….one might ask, the point?

Treat yourself once in a while, be spontaneous and / or if that is not your thing, remember the things that bring you joy and chase them!!

You are after all you own best friend and deserve to be treated every now and then…..

Friendship Fire Starter: Words, the written, the said

Words…the written, the said….communication, an integral part of any friendship.

This week words made me smile, laugh out loud, chuckle to myself, words made me think, ponder, and question. The beauty of language, at is simplest and its most complex…I had a week were I was aware of just how important communication is, of its power to inspire to and to change moods….and it was through my friendships that I realised this beauty.

There was the phone texting…..After a wonderful weekend down South, and a Sunday swim at the Hyams Beach, on the outskirts of the Jervis Bay National Park.

Hyams Beach, its claim to fame : It has the whitest sand in the WORLD…Who am I to argue? …It is simply divine, a paradise a mere 3 hours drive South of Sydney.

A day after this delightful beach frolic I received a text from my friend Colleen, who I had been swimming with that day.

‘Hyams Beach was closed at noon yesterday as they spotted 6 sharks near the shore, amongst them a tiger shark’

I could hardly believe it as Colleen and I had finished up our swim at 11.59am that very day, and headed off to the Hyams Beach cafe for an early lunch

‘Lucky! Looks like we escaped an early death’ was my response and to that Colleen replied ‘ We would have died happy’

And I laughed to myself…I would never have expected such a reply…but it could not have been more true…Our Sunday swim was just heavenly….Colleen had a total of 3 swims, I had two….We were like kids again, bobbing up and down in the clear blue sea, not a care in the world.

I smiled as I typed my response ‘ Agreed!’


Then there was an email from an old friend, a lovely guy I meet 10 years ago when I was a backpacker, living in Edinburgh, Scotland.

This guys first language is not English, but Spanish. I admire anyone who can speak another language for I struggle with just one. The beauty of words was evident in a compliment he gave about my recent venture into the world of writing / blogging.

‘ You surprised me!! Continue!!’

These words sprang out on the computer screen, it read like a dare, a challenge, the words will me on…to keep at it….to write, and write and write.

An English speaker who enjoyed my writing would have said ‘ I really like you work, keep going’ and whilst that sounds nice, for me it does not inspire like the words penned by my friend.  As my 2012 motto is to   ‘Expect the Unexpected’ this is the best of compliments….who knows what is around the corner….but one thing is for sure….I will just continue to document it!!

The beauty and meaning behind the written and the said….Go on, start a conversation with someone you love, someone you know, the stranger sitting next to you on the bus…go on, I dare you!!

And now for a song…Bee Gees : Words


Friendship Fire Starter: Gift Giving

Tis the season of gift giving, and there is nothing nicer giving or receiving a gift when time, effort, thought and love has gone into the process. Yes, this weeks friendship fire starter is based around the concept of the gift.

I love giving gifts, pondering over the purchase, often wishing that the gift would stay with me on a permanent basis…choosing the wrapping paper, the ribbon and then there is the home-made gift tag or card and  the real fun starts!! Out comes the coloured paper, the sticker collection. the pencils, the glitter, the glue, the creative process in full swing!!….The home made card completing the parcel, a well dressed package, a unique parcel tailor-made for that special someone.

Over the years I have both received many wonderful gifts, the gift great family and friends, wonderful pets, holidays near and far, toys, books, hot meals…I could go on and on. But to narrow it down I will reflect on the last 5 years…and two gifts stand out…let me tell you about them….

The Ring: On my ring finger, left hand I wear the most divine ring. It was given to me by my wonderful friend Jess, a person I could not imagine going through life without….To put it simply, Jess is the best ( She will love me saying this!!)

The Pink Ring…plus other bling on Jess’ finger!!

Through a sea of tragedy, much despair and sadness, the gift of the ring was given to me as a thank you gift, the ring was Jess’ was of saying thank you for being her friend through tough times…But if I was honest with her, and I always am, the gift was not necessary…I would have been there regardless….

But I LOVE the ring, I get complimented on it at least once a week, the ring makes me HAPPY, I just have to look at it and it makes me feel stronger, reassures me of the good people in my life, reminds me of Jess…It is a beautiful piece of jewellery and I feel so proud to own it.

A friend admiring the ring

The other gift I have received over the last 5 years, was given to me on my recent holiday to NYC….a handmade card that accompanied a small gift given to me on my 33rd birthday. The gift was from my friend Magda, an aspiring film maker and self-proclaimed women of the world.

The card was written as Magda took to subway from Brooklyn to Union Square, NYC,  where we met for my birthday dinner. Yes, there was the usual ‘ Happy Birthday’ message, but other words jumped right off the page…Magda had captured a the essence of who I wanted to me, who I need to be in the written word:

‘Be open to love and remember that were ever you go there will always be someone waiting for you’

As a person far from home on my birthday, and as a person to who loves travelling abroad, this special message was tailor-made for just for me..I felt extremely lucky….I remember asking my friend if I could use part of the message in my blog, the reply was ‘ Sure go ahead..I can’t even remember what I wrote!!

So heres to gift giving and the joy it brings to the person giving the gift, and the person receiving.

Gifts don’t have to cost a lot of money, they don’t have to cost a sent…but a well thought out gift can help cement all that is wonderful about a friendship.

Tis the season to give gifts, with a little thought and a lot of love, may you be on both the sending and receiving end of many joyous parcels!!

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