Lean into the hill

Lean into the hill

Many people want to enjoy the prize without paying the price. In fact, I think I would have to say, we all fit into that category to some degree, wouldn’t you? I mean, don’t we want to enjoy the view from the top, without the effort it takes to get there? If you disagree with that statement then let me ask you this; when is the last time you took an elevator to the top of a building, drove your car to the top of a hill or caught the cable car to a nice lookout? Maybe a better question would be – and you may need to stretch your memory – when was the last time you actually walked the stairs, the path, the track or the road to the top?

In 2018, I was on a European cruise, which stopped for a day in Gibraltar. As the ship neared the port, the great Rock of Gibraltar stood out like a beacon. All I could think about, whilst looking at it, was climbing that rock. As I googled, ‘climbing the Rock of Gibraltar’, there were lots of sites promoting the cable car, taxis, tours and other modes of transport to get people to the top, but not much on walking it. This was the case for obvious reasons, most people don’t walk it. In my mind, I was fixated on climbing that hill, and as you may know, when you decide to do something, you will always find a way.

Long story short, I found the track, started walking and not long into it, I discovered why most people take the cable car! But to me, the view was going to look so much better after I had conquered the great rock, so I just leaned into the hill and took one painful step at a time. Honestly, when you focus on the wonderful feeling you’ll experience when you arrive, and, just take one step at a time, then in no time at all you will be there. And, I was. And, I felt amazing. And, the view was awesome! I decided to reward myself with a cable car trip back down to the bottom. Incredibly, the queue to buy tickets to catch the cable car up the rock, was out the door and way up the street. I felt sorry for all of those people, as they missed one of the best feelings of achievement and fulfillment available. That is, leaning into the hill and working their way to the top.

As you may know, I am without a driver’s license for a few months after it was suspended because I accrued too many demerit points. Of the many alternate modes of transport available to me, one that I am using regularly is my bicycle. I am discovering far more hills around where I live than I was ever aware of. When you’re driving a car, you don’t notice. Recently, I was riding home after a walk with some great people, and one of them suggested I take the bike path along the freeway, as it is very scenic and pretty, so, I took her advice.

She was right, it was very scenic. What she hadn’t warned me about were the many ridiculously long and steep hills I would have to negotiate. I am a pretty stubborn and determined person, so as I approached a hill and could see many people walking their bikes up it, I made the decision to ride it, no matter how hard it would be. So, as I got to the hill and raised the gear, I leaned into the hill and with lungs almost bursting and legs about to explode, I inched my way to the top of the hill. I got there, gasping for air, but feeling incredibly proud of myself and very much enjoying the downhill glide that followed. Needless to say, I will be very weary of taking that route home again!

My point is this, we all love; the view from top of the hill or mountain, the joy of great relationships, the feeling of being lean, fit and functioning well, the privilege that money allows and  the feeling of success and achievement, yet we will never experience any of these things without a journey and the struggle of a hill to conquer. So, my advice is this; don’t run from the hill or look for an easier way. Lean into the hill and work your way to the top. Once you have done the work and achieved the outcome, you will be a better person, more confident, and happier in every respect.

In my podcast this week, ‘Warren the rabbit,’ I speak to the wonderful Craig Harper, about non-attachment, and letting go of this comfort-zone that may be holding you back from your best life. Please don’t shy away from the hill or the discomfort that confronts you this week. Embrace the work it takes to build a loving relationship. Welcome the discomfort of going through the daily process to regain or attain optimal wellbeing. Accept and enjoy the work required to create an abundant financial position. Appreciate the inconvenient actions required to write your book, learn something new or create something extraordinary. The reality is, nothing great will come knocking on your door, so, my greatest encouragement for you this week is to… lean into the hill, work hard to get to the top and then enjoy the view!

I am focussing on me!

I am focussing on me!

What makes life so complicated, when it really should be simple, fun and fabulous? Have you ever thought about what causes you the most stress? Let me ask you this, is it something or someone out of your control? Is it the Coronavirus? Is it the weather? Is it your partner, your kids, your friends, your colleagues or your family? I have finally realised that it’s so easy to get stressed and confused trying to negotiate, work out and control things that I have no control over. So, I decided to focus on the only person I can control. That’s me.

I have had a few of these conversations this week, so the content for this week’s blog seems to just flow naturally, and it follows up beautifully from the podcast I did with Natalie E. West, called, ‘The relationship that counts,’ It started with a conversation with a friend, who has a business, and I asked him how he was going with it and life in general. He said, ‘Do you know? Life is really complicated at the moment.’ I asked him why and he said, ‘Things are not going as I want, and, people are unpredictable.’ Right there, in one succinct sentence, he summed up life, when we take the focus off ourselves.

Ironically, I have just got off a zoom call with a great mate who admitted he was feeling overwhelmed with everything he was doing at the moment. He is a devoted family man, has a demanding job that he loves and is one of the most caring and giving people I have ever met. Yet, in this giving, being and doing for others, he has lost focus on the one person who is central to his health, his happiness and his life… himself.

During the week, I was a contributor on an online panel event, with three other wonderful people, talking to parents about their impact and influence on raising healthy people. Ironic, I know, as I don’t have any children, except a fluffy one! Having said that, I was a child myself, and I have been speaking in schools for the last 4 years, so I know a little something about the topic. The things that seem to cause parents the most stress include; how to communicate with their children, what their children will do, how they will behave, how they respond to challenges and how they will turn out in life. These all seem like pretty reasonable things to be concerned about, right? There were many amazing ideas and suggestions made by the other panellists, so I had to try and add something of value.

In my simple mind, and based on many thoughts and conversations I had experienced this week, I suggested that, as much as we wish we could control other people, there is only one person we are in control of, that is ourselves. As a child, where my parents had the most influence and impact on me and my life were not things they told me to do, they were things I observed them doing in the pursuit of being the best they could be. If your children are anything like you were, I am guessing they aren’t really listening to you, even though you are spouting great wisdom and suggesting sensible practices. Am I right? What your children are doing, as you did with your parents, is watching you and following the lead you are setting. The question is; what type of people do you want your children to become? Then, as Mahatma Gandhi said, ‘be the change you want to see.’

This week has so powerfully reinforced to me that the only person I really need to worry about and focus on is me. I know I cannot create change in others that I am not willing to create in myself. I know that I cannot create a wave of wellness around the world, if that world doesn’t start in my own home. I know that I can’t do all the things I want to do, and be the person I want to be for others, if I don’t focus on my own mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. This may sound selfish, but it’s the opposite of selfish, it is, in fact, the best thing you can do for the people you care about. Everything you think, say and do will create a ripple effect that will impact many lives. That being the case, stop worrying about how you can control the uncontrollable and focus on the one person you have control over… yourself!

The power of kindness

The power of kindness

Do you want to be healthy, happy, prosperous, passionate and purposeful? Is that the dumbest question you’ve ever heard? Of course you do, or you wouldn’t be reading this blog. I had the pleasure of an amazing conversation with Brad McEwan, well-known Australian media personality, on my podcast this week, and, as he has transitioned from sports reporting and news-reading to the mental health space, his message to me was loud and clear. That message… kindness matters.

He told many stories and shared how kindness can help improve your mental health, your happiness and the clarity of your purpose. The immediate physiological impact of this, is a healthier body, mind and heart. He told a powerful story about two conflicting experiences in the same day, one with a selfish driver on the road, which increased his stress and anger levels, and another with the kindness he showed to two strangers walking past his home. I’m not going to tell you the story, you will have to listen to the podcast, Kindness Matters, if you want to hear it from the mouth of Brad. What I will tell you is that the act of kindness will long live in his mind and heart, and the incident on the road will be forgotten immediately.

With this week’s blog in mind, I did a little social experiment on Facebook. I asked people, who were open to it, to commit a random act of kindness and then share, what they did, how it was received and how they felt as a result. There were many responses. If you were one of them and are reading this, I want to thank you again for your willingness to act in kindness and then share about it. There was the lady who bought a tram driver a coffee, a lady who paid for an elderly man’s scripts at the pharmacy and another lady who gave cookies to a widower at the bus stop. There were people who gifted services and pre-paid coffees for people at cafés and many more wonderous acts of kindness. In every situation the person receiving the act was surprised, grateful and happy.

As nice as it was for the receiver, the power is really for the giver of kindness. Each person stated how wonderfully warm and satisfied they felt after acting in kindness, even if, as in the case of the pre-paid coffees or the lady who gave a coffee to the tram driver, they didn’t hang around to see the response. In fact, the lady who gave the coffee to the tram driver said; ‘How did he react? I don’t know. I left before he realised. How did it make me feel: great! It was a good ‘pick me up’ at a time I was feeling a bit blah!’ This is powerful.

So, my week of kindness was an interesting one. I gave a copy of one of my books and some time to help someone financially struggling. Her response helped me feel amazing. I offered to do something for a new friend, that seemed insignificant to me, yet she responded with tears of gratitude. I felt wonderful. I met up for a meal with an old friend I bumped into the week before, but hadn’t seen for many decades, and I paid for her dinner. She was quite resistant at the start, but as I insisted, she was really grateful. I felt warm inside.

Then, as I was walking home during the week, in kindness-mode, I was approached by a teenager. As he walked towards me, I thought, ‘Great, here’s another opportunity for kindness.’ It was outside a convenience store, and he said to me, ‘Excuse me, could I ask a favour?’ I was ready to say yes, when he continued, ‘I am only seventeen, could you go into the store and buy a packet of cigarettes for me?’ Okay, that stopped me in my tracks. My mind was racing. Do I say yes, because it’s being nice, or is it kinder to say no? I have seen my heavily smoking mother die of cancer and I am a passionate non-smoking advocate, so, whilst I’m sure this young man did not appreciate my kindness, I said to him, ‘You seem like a really nice guy. I have seen the negative effects of smoking and I can’t, in good conscience, buy your cigarettes. The best thing I can say to you is, no. You are worthy of a long, healthy life.’ And, with that I walked away.

Now, do I for a moment think he cared about what I thought? Not really. I am sure the next person he asked, actually bought him cigarettes, but do you know what? I felt great that I had been kind to him. Not in a way he recognises now, but one which hopefully he will appreciate one day. I want to encourage you to spend this next week in kindness-mode and, as you do, notice how other people respond, but more than anything, notice how it makes you feel inside. Enjoy the power of kindness this week.

The difference between illness and wellness

The difference between illness and wellness

If you haven’t listened to my podcast this week with Morgan Beard, the lady with the amazing singing voice, I recommend you do. Wow, what a powerful conversation I had with her about her fight with depression, suicidal tendencies, and, what she overcome to be inspiring people today. At one point in the conversation, she talked about the difference, as described to her, between illness and wellness.

In many ways she was referring to mental illness and wellness, but I believe this every much applies to physical illness and wellness also. She spoke about a doctor, who when asked what he believed was the difference between the two, described in a very simple, yet powerful way. As I highlight the following letters in the two words, you will see the obvious and very accurate difference between Illness and WEllness. Clever, right? And, so true. It has been highlighted to me so clearly in the time of isolation during COVID-19.

I hope this doesn’t sound bad, but, for the most part, I have actually really enjoyed the period of isolation over the last few months. It has afforded me; time to reflect, time to grow as a person, time to create, the necessity to try new things and opened the door to amazing opportunities that have come my way. On the other and, however, living alone in some ways has been hard, really hard. I have, as previously mentioned, struggled with loneliness and dealing with certain things on my own. It resulted in some anxiety, periods of sadness, and whilst I don’t think I would describe it as depression, it was really tough at times.

The easing of COVID restrictions coincided with my niece, Tess’s 21st birthday, and so I went to spend a couple of hours with my brother, Matt, sister-in-law, Fiona, nephew, Jake and Tess, to help her celebrate. I arrived at their front door, pressed the doorbell and Tess came to answer it. She opened the door, looked at me with an unsure look on her face and asked, ‘are we hugging?’ ‘Heck, yeah!’ I said as I grabbed her and gave her a big and loving uncle/niece hug. It felt so good. For the next couple of hours, to be in the company of people that I love; talking, touching, hugging and laughing was just what I needed to leave feeling refreshed, renewed and ready to get back to happy me.

In last week’s blog, I explained that you are not alone in this world. This week, I want to encourage you to discover, find and spend time with your peeps, your tribe, your community and the people who care about you. This, my friend is the best antidote for illness there is. Get away from the ‘I’ mentality and get into ‘We’ mode. Many mental health issues begin because a person feels alone in the world, un-loved and un-heard. Morgan, in this week’s podcast, describes this heartbreaking feeling in her life as she spiralled into depression and many suicidal thoughts and actions. It was her connection with other people, which kept her alive, just one day at a time, until the WE-factor allowed her to fully recover and go on to be a person who is there for and impacting so many lives in a positive way.

When we are ‘I’ and feel alone, we often dwell in our brain on the things that are not good in life and the insecurities we have about ourselves. This can lead to unhealthy and damaging thoughts, emotions and actions that will destroy our mental and physical wellbeing. When we find ‘We’, in the way of the community of people who care, support, encourage and want to help us, then we feel strong, positive, confident and the thoughts, emotions and actions that follow will help us to be strong, healthy and happy; mentally and physically. If you want to live and amazing life of joyful longevity, then please move away from Illness and towards WEllness.

You are not alone

You are not alone

I have been writing these blogs for about fifteen years now. So, every week for that entire time I have posted my blog, and I have not missed a week in all that time. I don’t get paid for my blogs, I don’t know how many people read them and, to be honest, there have been many times when I have questioned why I invest time every week to write and post my blogs. Do you know what the answer to that particular question is for me, and why I keep writing? Because, I want you to feel like, no matter what’s happening in your life, you’re not alone.

That’s it! I mean, why else? I want to help people, that’s my thing. I really want you to know that you are good enough, deserve abundance, are loved and that a life of joyful longevity is available for you. Wow, I do sound like I am Mr Altruistic, don’t I? Don’t get me wrong, I do it as much for me as I do it for you. I get an enormous amount of pleasure and satisfaction knowing that each week, even one person, is being impacted by my words. There is something very special about feeling like you are not alone, I hope you get that feeling with these words that I am writing.

What gets me through challenging times is the knowledge that I am not alone. Knowing that other people are experiencing what I am experiencing and that there is always someone I can reach out to, keeps me moving forward and feeling optimistic, even in the darkest of times. I have incredible peace and joy in my faith that God is always there for me. I am grateful for my Dad, who would do anything for me and be anywhere I needed him to be, at the drop of a hat. I am loving that there are people in my life I can reach out to and know they are there for me. I am truly not alone, and neither are you.

What I realised a long time ago, is that my own current thinking will never get me where I want to be in life, If I want more from life, that is. How do I know? Well, there was a time in my life, I was working my brains out, for many years, and going further and further into debt. I couldn’t understand why, I thought hard work was the answer. The problem was that I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Irrespective of the brute force I was bludgeoning away at my life with, nothing changed, because my current thinking had taken me as far as it could take me. I can tell you, at that time in my life, I felt, discouraged, disillusioned, depleted and desperately alone. It wasn’t until I reached out to other people who were living the type of life I wanted, and who were willing to walk with me, that things rapidly started to change.

I see people, far too often, making the same mistake I made, which is, when things are not going as they want, they retreat into solitude, thinking the answer will come to them. Don’t get me wrong, alone time is important, however, to gain the answers you do not have, you need other people. Those people, by the way, are there to help you, if you just reach out and ask, or at least are willing to accept their offer to help. In my recent podcast with Patrick Bonello, one of the things he talks about, which has helped him most in the recent challenges of COVID-19, is the feeling of support that he has in the small community in which he lives. He never feels alone and so, in return, he is there for others. My conversation with him is incredibly inspiring. Click here to listen to this podcast.

My friend, as I finish up blog number ‘twenty-five squillion,’ I have no idea how many people will read it. If you are reading this, I am very grateful. More than anything, I want you to know, you are not alone. Whilst we may not know each other, I hope my words can be of some comfort and inspiration for you as you negotiate life to create your own happiness and success. For my own selfish satisfaction, please send me a message to let me know that you feel loved, supported and important. That would truly make my week. You are most definitely, not alone in this world. Know it, believe and enjoy it.

There is light in the darkness

There is light in the darkness

It’s been a tough couple of weeks for me, for personal reasons, and I am grateful to be coming out the others side. It’s been in a dark place and I can only thank the glimmer of light from a few sources that have kept me going. I love this quote from Robert Alden, “There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle.” It’s the light of that one small candle, I want to discuss this week.

Have you ever been in total darkness? I mean pitch black and no sign of light? I would guess, quite confidently, the answer is no. I mean, when you are outside on a very dark night and a cloud covered sky, there is still the glimmer of light from the moon or stars. When you are in a dark room, there is a glimmer of light coming under the door or from an electronic device. Rarely, I imagine, would you be in total darkness. Even when your eyes are closed, there is light coming from the image you are visualising. There is always some light, no matter how dark it seems.

Having said that, life can be tough at times. There are people all over the world who are living with darkness in their lives. Darkness in the forms of; sickness, loneliness, isolation, devastation, heartbreak, conflict, discrimination or the many other circumstances that can affect us all, even on a daily basis. If I’m being honest, raw and vulnerable, my darkness has come from a combination of heartbreak, isolation and loneliness. I can say, however, if not for some shining lights in my life, things would be very different for me, and I would not be writing this blog.

One source of light for me has come in the form of my faith with God and the knowledge that I am not alone. Another source has come in the form of people who care enough about me and have been there just when I needed them. The final source of light that has helped enormously is trust in my purpose, and belief that I am going through what I need to go through so I can come out the other side better and more equipped to make a positive difference in the world. That’s why I am writing this blog.

I had an incredibly inspiring conversation with Amanda Campbell on my podcast this week. Amanda found herself in almost total darkness, when at the age of 29, she was struck down and paralysed by Multiple Sclerosis. She was told by her doctor that she may never walk and would be bound to a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Then, at her lowest and darkest moment, she saw a light. After her girlfriends had taken her out for a meal and a laugh, she came home, and for the first time since being paralysed, was able to move her toe. The light of hope started shining on her life, and from that point things started changing very rapidly and very positively for Amanda. She is now happy, healthy and successful in her life and I encourage you to listen to my podcast conversation with her.

You may be experiencing darkness in a certain area your life right now. If so, I want to encourage you that the light is there. That one small candle for you may be hope that things can get better. That small source of light may be gratitude for the people who are there for you, the opportunities that exist and the capacity you have to come out the other side. That small light may come from faith that everything will be okay and that you will come out the other side, stronger, healthier and happier than ever.

When there is one small candle, with a tiny flame, it can be used to light another small candle. Then the two candles can light another two candles, the four candles another four, and so on. Before you know it, that one tiny source of light has transformed into a bright beacon shining on the wonderful life that is ahead of you. Just know, my friend, that no matter how much darkness you may experience, there is a light that will shine to guide you back out into the sunlight.