Posted in Life sparks

Finding Headspace

I have written about this before in various guises, but here is a simple truth about me: I am not always a great Completer-of-Things. Thinker-of-Things, most definitely. Planner-of-Things and even Starter-of-Things, absolutely. And if I ever get around to completing even a fraction of the things that I think or plan or start – or just dream about while I look out the window – look out, World.

However, since I am now 8/10 of the way through my current Headspace meditation trial, I figure that it’s safe to say that this is something I’ll definitely complete. And so I wanted to share it with you here, in case you haven’t heard of Headspace or their ‘gym membership for the mind’, starting with a free trial program of 10 minutes a day for 10 days.

According to their website (and, I’ve got to say, my experience over the past eight days), Headspace is all about ‘meditation made simple’. Not woo woo woo pan pipe music, cascading waterfalls and bird calls, but proven meditation techniques with a scientific foundation. Treat your head right is their tag line, which sounds like an excellent idea to me.

Headspace was started by Andy Puddicombe who, according to a quote on the website from the New York Times, “is doing for meditation what Jamie Oliver has done for food”. Only not charging quite so much (or offering branded tea towels and crockery, at this stage). I’d first seen Andy juggling his way through an interesting (and relatively short) TED talk – you can check it out here if you like – about the importance of mindfulness and, in a nutshell, making time to give our overly busy minds a rest on a regular basis. Another excellent idea.

On another topic, here are two giraffes that my lovely niece Ella and I met at Roar and Snore on Sunday morning.
Speaking of head space, here are two giraffes that my lovely niece Ella and I met at Roar and Snore on Sunday morning.

The Headspace site and app are easy to navigate, pretty to look at and fun to use. With clever animations and images, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that after I complete the initial 10 day challenge, I’m going to subscribe to get access to their other mindfulness and meditation wares. AND I WILL USE THEM. Look out, World!

Posted in Life sparks


Yesterday marked the beginning of Spring here, with a Sydney day that started out buried in a thick fog, and then opened up to be beautifully sunny.

Yesterday, I laughed and sang and chat-chat-chatted with my lovely nieces on our way to school.

Yesterday, I saw a guy texting as he drove: unbelievably using both hands to text, as he held his iPhone above the steering wheel.

Yesterday, I ate a frittata that I made, topped with fresh herbs from my (teeny tiny) veggie garden.

Springtime daffodil selfie. [image from Pixabay]
Springtime daffodil selfie.
[image from Pixabay]

Yesterday, we went to our lovely friend Claire’s Dad’s funeral. On a sunny day, the first of Spring.

There were laughs and tears and music and lots of people with grey hair. And little baby Emily was there, smiling away quietly. I haven’t actually been to many funerals. And I couldn’t look at Claire and her family as we walked past, because I could feel the tears trying to leap out from the well they’d formed in my eye sockets. But it felt good to give her a big hug afterwards. Because sometimes nothing says what you want to say quite like a big hug.

Yesterday, there was some sadness, some silliness, some sameness, some smiles, and some sunshine. And it was only day one of Spring, the best season of them all (if you ask me). Here’s to happy times and sad times and old friends and new beginnings and hugs. Don’t forget the hugs.

And here’s to The Ship Song, which was in my head today. The Opera House project version from a few years ago is here in case you like it too.

Posted in Life sparks

How To Talk To Anyone

That’s right, my friends. ANYONE. It’s a guide book of sorts by Leil Lowndes, recently summarised by Maggie Zhang on the Business Insider website under the heading: 7 Body Language Tricks To Make Anyone Instantly Like You. Uh huh.

The post highlights some of the top tips of the book, many of which seemed a little creepy to me. For example, implementing The Flooding Smile when you first meet people. What’s that, then? Apparently, it’s when you make a “big, warm, responsive smile flood over your face and overflow into your eyes.” It’s meant to make you seem sincere. I think it sounds a bit messy.

Now THAT'S a flooding smile.  [image from Pixabay]
Now THAT’S a flooding smile.
[image from Pixabay]
Then there is something called the Big-Baby Pivot. “When you meet someone new, turn your body fully toward them and give them the same, undivided attention you would give a baby.” In her book, Lowndes says that “Pivoting 100% towards the new person shouts, ‘I think you are very, very special.’” Maybe don’t use this one in the office, as I am not sure that much good has ever come from shouting I THINK YOU ARE VERY, VERY SPECIAL at a new person.

[image from Pixabay]
Hang By Your Teeth is a visualisation trick that sounds more painful that it actually feels. I imagine. “To do this, visualise a leather bit hanging from the frame of every door you walk through. Pretend that you are taking a bite on the dental grip, and let it sweep your cheeks into a smile and lift you up.” It’s all about good posture. Giddy up.

And possibly my favourite – Sticky Eyes. “Pretend your eyes are glued to your conversation partner’s with sticky warm taffy,” and don’t break eye contact. “When you must look away, do it ever so slowly, reluctantly, stretching the gooey taffy until the tiny string finally breaks.” And wait for your warning letter from HR about leering at your colleagues, I guess.

Only imagine it was joining your eyes to another person's. [image from]
Only imagine it was joining your eyes to another person’s.
[image from]
You can check out the Business Insider post – please be assured that I haven’t included all of the highlights in this post. And if these points sound good to you, or if you would like some help in talking to ANYONE, you can check out Leil Lowndes book, How To Talk To Anyone.

You’re welcome.

Posted in Life sparks, Travel sparks

This time last year…

Sometimes I like to think back to this time last year/month/week and remember what I was doing. It’s hard to believe it, but this time last year, I was walking across Spain on the Camino Frances. My friend Steph and I were about one week into our journey and had already made some new life-long friends. These were the innocent days, before I got attacked (firstly by unidentified bugs and, shortly thereafter, by my own body trying to deal with the crazy looking bites). Ah yes, when all we had to worry about was being tired and a bit sore, the summer heat, blisters and washing our clothes by hand.

I do miss the guilt-free carb loading that came with 30 km days.
I do miss the guilt-free carb loading that came with 30 km days.

It has been nice to have a look back at my posts from this time. Such great days – beautiful places and people. And wine.

Sure, it wasn't always picturesque...
Sure, it wasn’t always picturesque… 

In case you’d like to reminisce about the Camino, or if you’re planning your own Camino adventure, I recommend this documentary by Drew Robinson: A Journey of the Mind. It brings back a lot of memories for me – undoubtedly, walking the Camino was one of the best things I’ve ever done. More for the people than for the bugs. But then the bugs showed me a different side of the people (myself included), so it really was all good.

We thought we'd need our rain gear for sure here. We didn't.
We thought we’d need our rain gear for sure walking into this. We didn’t.

The doco runs for 40 minutes, so maybe grab some sangria and tapas (bug spray is optional) before you settle down to watch it. Buen Camino!

Posted in Life sparks

What Will Matter

My lovely Mom called me last week to tell me about this poem that she had seen. Apparently it was a favourite of Sister Philomene Tiernan, an Australian nun who was on board Flight MH-17 when it was shot down over the Ukraine, and it had been used at a memorial service celebrating Sister Phil’s life. By all accounts, she was a great woman.

It seems that Sister Philomene’s Irish friend – Sister Aideen Kinlen – had shared What Will Matter, by Michael Josephson,  as the two were on a retreat in France, towards the end of Sister Phil’s time in Europe. I think it’s pretty incredible that the two friends had reflected on this poem at that time, given what was to come.

I think some people may read it and feel sad at the suggestion that everything’s ultimately a bit pointless. But I guess I read it as a reminder to prioritise what’s important and try not to get caught up in the other ‘stuff’, which messes with our heads and doesn’t really matter.