Hi there. It’s been a while since I last posted. I’m not really sure why that is – time has been filled with stuff and things and to be honest, I haven’t really felt like writing. In the face of happenings in the real world, the silliness of finding and sharing everyday sparks sometimes seems so ridiculous. I mean, people are suffering and getting sick and breaking up and shutting down and doing mean things. Then again, people are also being born, getting healthy, having fun, making things, doing good, starting again, having adventures and laughing. Right?
I also know that whatever is going on, I am still noticing those everyday sparks – whether they’re funny, silly, weird, nice, scary or quirky. And now I feel like getting back into sharing them here. In case we like some of the same sorts of things and I’ve seen stuff that you haven’t. Because we could all use some sparks to make us smile or grimace or snort or make that tsk tsk sound from time to time, I reckon. While we’re dealing with all of those happenings in the real world.
To get back into the swing of things, here are some pics of the baby chimp born at our Taronga Zoo here in Sydney over the weekend. Some classic shots for the family album.
I really like the idea of meditation. I struggle with the execution, but I really like the idea. So many people swear by it as a key to happiness, health and wellbeing – and I don’t know about you, but that’s definitely a key that I’d like to have. As with a lot of people, I have one of those ‘monkey minds’ that finds it a bit tricky to slow down and focus (or not focus, I guess) on meditating.
A few years ago, I was doing a course at the Happiness Institute here in Sydney (where the unhappiest person was actually a nun, whose convent-mates sounded like a pack of she-devils – but that’s another story for another day) and one week the class was about meditation. We had to sit there and meditate – on cue, sitting on the uncomfortable hard chairs, under the glare of fluorescent lights, tired and distracted after a day at the office (or convent). I tried, I really did. But all I could do was hear sounds from the outside world – oh, there’s a garbage truck; hey, that’s a bird; aha, the door just opened; what a crazy ringtone. That kind of thing.
I was optimistic that I’d be a star meditator when I was rested and relaxed during a week at the fabulous Gwinganna health retreat in Queensland a couple of years ago. After dinner one night, they brought in a monk (I think he was a monk) to lead us in a meditation. It was a freezing cold night, we were sitting on a hard wooden floor, we hadn’t had caffeine or alcohol or sugar for days and nearly everyone was twitching. And throughout the meditation session (we weren’t meant to close our eyes), the monk kept CHECKING HIS IPHONE. Uh huh. Not sending messages or playing Angry Birds or anything like that, but leaning over and touching the button to check the time. I wondered if he had maybe booked back-to-back meditation sessions on that cold mid-week night up in the remote Gold Coast hinterland.
But I’m not giving up on meditation – I’m trying again. With the big guns, Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra, no less. They’re offering a free 21-day Meditation Challenge through the Chopra Center, including daily emails with guided meditations and inspirational bits and bobs from Oprah and Deepak. It kicks off on 11 March and if you’d like to get on board, you can sign up here. I don’t know much more than that, to be honest, but it’s gotta be worth a try, right?
I’m aware that today’s post will definitely not be everyone’s cup of tea, but that might kinda even be the point. Most of us are so busy, busy, busy that we don’t really stop and think about things. I mean big picture things, not what type of lettuce to buy or what time bus to catch or what colour top to wear. Stumble Upon recently steered me towards an amazing site called Thought Questions. It’s based on a very cool idea (or, at least, an idea that really appeals to me): “A question that makes you think is worth asking…So we ask one new thought-provoking question every day”. I like it a lot. And if you feel like sharing, you can enter your answer to the daily question or tell your story.
But back to the actual questions – the creators of the site suggest that “the questions posted here should be reviewed regularly when you have some quiet time to think. After all, reflection is the key to progression.” Amen to that. They remind visitors that there are no right or wrong answers to the questions asked. Anyways, enough jibber jabbering, here are some examples for you…
They use cool images with their thought-provoking questions. Looking through the archives was an interesting experience – I rolled my eyes at some, wanted to wallpaper my apartment with others, and considered sending a few on to different people I know. If you’re interested, you can like Thought Questions on Facebook or sign up for the daily question to be emailed to you. The website is here if you’d like to check it out.
I guess I’ve been trying to simplify my life. Jumping off the corporate treadmill (or, at least, jumping on the side of the treadmill pretty regularly, so I don’t get sucked down the back of the machine, catching my shoe and falling flat on my face); trying to ditch the stuff I don’t need in my home (granted, living in an apartment adds a little pressure there); trying to eat all of the food that I buy (and not let it turn into a science experiment at the bottom of the fridge); trying to steer clear of so many things that I don’t really need when I’m shopping (yep, I’m looking at you, shiny kitchen appliances and cook books). Stuff like that.
Keep it simple – a great goal, but easier said than done. That’s why I like this list of prompts, which I saw on Facebook without any credit to the person who put it together, so unfortunately I’m unable to thank them. I think it’s a really good reminder – especially if there’s a busy weekend ahead, or you’re putting off something that you need to sort out, or you forget that other people don’t have a telepathic line to your mind. Maybe it really can be this simple? I reckon it’s worth a shot!
“Leah Dieterich’s mother always told her to write thank you notes. So she does. To everything. thxthxthx is her daily exercise in gratitude.”
Leah collects the notes on her website, which is a nice place to look every now and again (or every day, if you’re so inclined) for reminders about the little things that are good.
The happiness / positive psychology experts say that gratitude is one of the keys to happiness, but I like that Leah’s website doesn’t get too deep or preachy about that. Hers is more of the quirky thank you – to the people, things, places that you mightn’t normally think about. Like using your toothbrush, three day weekends, coffee and Mariah Carey. Leah’s website is here if you want to have a look.