Archive for the ‘Life Dreams’ Category

The Journey 2 November 2015

November 2, 2015

Mindfulness is not a magic potion. Like a new diet, piece of technology or idea it doesn’t work unless you use it. New running shoes don’t exercise to get fit or lose weight. I have to put the shoes on and actually go for a walk. Otherwise I just donated $40 to KMart.

I have been guilty many times in the past, as have most people, of moving on to the next magic potion, being enthusiastic about it for a while, even actually using it per the instructions. And then forgetting about it for whatever reason.

In my recent transition to another go at mindfulness, I have already reminded myself of this: yes, used well mindfulness is wonderful; I haven’t failed if I spill a cup of coffee; a moment’s inattention at the wheel could have worse consequences than that coffee; don’t be too hard on myself if I drop the ball; sometimes even when we make mistakes, we are extended grace, so that we do not receive the full consequences of our actions; and when we remember that, we may remember to extend some grace to someone else.

So what happened today? I needed to book some flights and accommodation for work to visit Groote Eylandt next week. We are using a new travel agency; I am going to Groote to present a new travel policy – I wanted to do it all “right”. I got a bit to caught up in getting it right and put myself under more pressure than I should have. As recently as a week ago this would have really thrown me out. Today, I was still stressed but mindfulness helped me get the job completed, ruefully smile a bit that I’d got myself into my own bind, mostly in my own mind but by the time I got home, it was all behind me. No rehashing it over, chastising myself. Not only had I let it go but because of the work I have pout in just recently, the letting go was closer to a natural process than a conscious process. It’s like breathing, most of the time you don’t have to think about it but it still happens.

If that doesn’t communicate, think of the scene in the original Star Wars when Obi Wan first tells Luke about the force and has him use a light sabre against a drone. Initially he is hopeless. Then Obi Wan tells him to put on the helmet so that he cannot see the drone and resume the joust. It is counter intuitive, taking away sight. Luke thought he was mad and did not want to do it. Luke did better when he used his other senses to harness the force.

Again mindfulness is not a magic potion like the Star Wars force. But sometimes you need to relax a little, see how it feels and simply dispassionately observe what difference it makes.

This week I’m improving my daily life with mindfulness to help me along the way. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

The Journey 1 Nov 15

November 1, 2015

This day has been a long time coming. There have been false starts, doubts, relapses and just plain laziness and pigheadedness. The Journey is about being present and mindful as often as possible, in all areas of life. My dear friend Kathie introduced me to the concept sometime in the last ten years. I was sceptical and resistant. After a time I tried it out. The first time I seriously tried it out was early one morning a couple of years ago in the back yard, facing the new day, eyes closed, stretching arms, legs and trunk while listening – to birds, passing cars, sounds that may not normally be obvious.Then on the drive to work, the radio was off and I just noticed things – passing cars, pedestrians, trees, gardens, signs – not the mere objects but movement, light, texture. This lasted a few days and was very powerful. Like any new habit, mindfulness has to be practised and exercised, as the newness makes way for familiarity.

Mindfulness has been to the fore in my life again in just the last few weeks. Today I am starting this occasional reflection. I’m not sharing these posts to the world of Facebook or Twitter. But I want to be able to log on here when ever I want to. If people happen across this blog, there will be a lot of boring stuff but perhaps just one nugget or so.

I am very inclined to put numerical measurements in place, especially in projects like this. This time there are almost none. No word count minimum or maximum, no schedule of posts. This is my gift to myself.

Mindfulness. Already in just this last week, consciously using mindfulness has given me the perception that time has moved slower than normal. I have been busy at work and at home but a couple of times things that I thought were two or three days ago were only yesterday. It is an especially modern phenomenon that time seems to speed up as we get older; we lose time. Could mindfulness help give us our life back by giving us time to savour it more fully than before? Today, I believe so. Time will tell.

I have a huge ball of string that has built up over the last 52 years, a lot of it in the last 10 to 15 years. It’s not regrets and mistakes – most of those I have fully come to terms with. It’s mostly the practical things of how I want to organise myself. But it’s just this: start from where I am, be mindful in all things as far as possible, be kind to myself – then I will have the time , energy and inclination to participate in the world around me.

Be Street Smart – Raise Funds while you Dine Out

December 5, 2011

So, volunteering by giving time is just not possible at the moment. How about supporting Street Smart. Here is a little bit more about the organisationfrom their website:

“We established StreetSmart Australia in 2003 to support and strengthen smaller, grassroots community organisations helping the homeless, frustrated by the lack of action and support from Government. These smaller organisations are critical in helping many people in crisis. StreetSmart helps out by raising funds and delivering financial grants, raising community awareness of the issues of homelessness and assisting these organisations to connect across their communities.

We see StreetSmart as a unique bridge between those that want to help people experiencing homelessness and the grassroots agencies that are changing lives. We believe in the support of emergency aid and critical services, and development of projects and programs that encourage social inclusion, empowerment and sustainable change for people experiencing homelessness.

When money is raised from the public 100 per cent of your donations are distributed in the form of grants. To date we have raised $1.67 million, supporting 400 grassroots projects.

We currently operate in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, SA, WA and ACT.”

From now until 24 December just add $2 or more to your bill at participating restaurants to help raise money for the homeless. More details are here!

Are you a business person who owns and runs a cafe or restaurant? You and your patrons can get involved, details here.

Volunteer…you know you want to!!!

December 5, 2011

Today, December 5, is International Volunteer Day. Volunteering is something almost all of us do. At every stage of life, there are a multitude of possibilities. Plenty of activities to do with your children require volunteers – from tuck shops, to coaching sporting teams to providing transport on an excursion. At the other end of the scale older people may require a hand: meal preparation and delivery, household repairs and lawn mowing or a lift to the local shops.

Almost everyone already has all they need to be a volunteer: willingness to help and time to spend. While some volunteering may require training before commencing, most volunteering can be done without spending any money and relies on skills that people already have.

And the benefits of volunteering? The opportunity to mix with other people, to work towards a joint cause and often, just to help another person have a better day.

Here are some places to get started:

Volunteering Australia

Go Volunteer

Meals on Wheels

Volunteering for Professionals

Service Clubs – Apex, Rotary, Lions

Lifeline

Money – Tom on Tuesday is taking requests

January 20, 2011

Since I started seriously blogging again in December, my posts have ranged across a diverse number of topics, some serious, some not so. I have noticed however that there is a spike of interest whenever the topics turn to money, whether business or personal. So, I have decided to take requests. I invite readers to send me their questions about managing money, personal budgeting or anything about financially setting up and running a business.

A little about my background. I am a CPA (Certified Practising Accountant). I have worked for many years as an accountant for various businesses running their day to day financial matters and preparing regular financial reports for business owners and managers. I have also has several stints working in public practice preparing financial statements and income tax returns for both businesses and individuals.

Here is what I am NOT. Although I have worked as an employee in accounting practices, I have never been a principal able to practise in my own name. I am also not a tax agent. This simply means that I have been qualified and experienced enough to be an accountant and tax return preparer for other business people but never for myself. Also, although I understand many things about investments in shares and property, I am not a financial planner.

That aside, I am prepared to answer financial questions as far as my experience allows. I intend to put the same qualification forward as you would hear for a radio talk back show or you would read in a newspaper column. My advice at all times is general in nature and not meant to be acted upon by any particular individual. Anyone reading my thoughts should get their own specific advice before making any financial decisions.

So what can I do. I can give the benefit of my experience in business and financial matters. I will also be making numerous links to relevant information on the internet. By doing this I hope to cut down on the time you take to wade through the mountains of information on the web.

So, fire away with your questions!

Making My Mark in 2011

December 29, 2010

How will you make your mark in 2011? That was the title of a talk back session on ABC radio today. What a great topic for me, looking forward to 2011.

On 6th December 2010 I resurrected this blog because I wanted to. At the same time I committed to posting three times a week during December and January because I could AND because I wanted to. In the three weeks since then, not only have I kept up with my committment but I have enjoyed the blogging journey. That tells me I am on the right track with this one.

On 15th December 2010 I also wrote a post entitled “SHOULDed to the nth degree”. It contains some warnings. The opening paragraph is sufficient to warn of ambitions that one SHOULD have but which one is NOT committed to:

“SHOULD is a deceptive word. SHOULD is not an entirely bad word. Indeed it has the ring of being a virtuous word. However SHOULD is a word that is apt to grow tentacles. It is a word that is synonymous with obligation but it is also a word that is liable to take you places that you do not wish to go.”

Bearing the above in mind, how would I like to make my mark in 2011? I would like to be self employed in 2011 first with a sustainable income, then with a bountiful income. This ambition is coloured by a horrible employment experience for part of 2010. It is also influenced by some indifferent experiences during job interviews and less than encouraging results when applying for other jobs.

Self employment though is not a goal I seek lightly. My several previous attempts at sustainable self employment have ranged between not quite sustainable and abject failure.

The positive intent for my self employment goal is that there are several things I am good at: analysing businesses, dealing with people and share investing. I have several outlets for these abilities: becoming a BAS service provider and bookkeeper with the bonus of being an accountant, helping other businesses through the power of Childsplay Marketing and investing my own money (when I make some!). I have been able to look after the clients of other people and make money for them. I would now like to look after my own clients and make money for myself!

This goal of sustainable and then bountiful self employment is not one that will immediately appear. But it is my dream for 2011 and beyond. It is how I would like to make my mark in 2011. And you just know that there will be future blog posts on this topic. Stay tuned.

How will make YOUR mark in 2011?

Hope. Christmas is full of Hope.

December 24, 2010

Ironically it is easy to be melancholy at Christmas time. Christmas is, at least in the Western world, a time for families, togetherness, celebrations over meals and for Christians, the time of the year to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the birth of God’s Son, Saviour and representative on this earth.

Perhaps melancholy at this time of year is not such a stretch. Families disperse for all sorts of reasons, beloved family members die, some people are more worried about their immediate financial or residential future to worry about what might be on their table at Christmas. There are some that will have been hurt by their experience with “religious people” and who have no need to be reminded by the occurrence of another religious festival.

Some may think that perhaps this melancholic phenomenon is a recent one. Say, latter 20th century recent, with all the family breakups, rabid consumerism and departure from “good old-fashioned values” that a modern age has brought.

I don’t believe it. Christmas for as long as it has been celebrated has occurred in Europe and North America as a mid-winter festival. The days are short, the weather is freezing. I bet there were big blizzard years when no one moved very far, long before snowed in airports became the bane of 21st century travellers. Cold weather, short days and a general lack of sunlight are not good for the healthiest of people let alone those who are biologically pre-disposed to depressive melancholy.

And yet. And yet. Human beings have survived several millenia despite inhospitable winter conditions. Although the origins of 25th December being the celebration of Christ’s birthday are uncertain, it has been noted that one explanation is that it is close to the date of pagan northern hemisphere winter solstice celebrations. Early Christian Church leaders were thought to want to draw the attention away from pagan celebrations towards the Christian faith. One way or another, Europeans in particular, in the depths of the hardest time of the year, were determined to celebrate getting half way through winter and started looking forward to longer and warmer days ahead. As the focus moved to the birth of Christ, there was similarly hope that from humble beginnings, Christ was destined to become Our Saviour for the eternal life ahead. Pagan or Christian, the message is one of hope. That better is ahead, whether temporal or eternal.

At least according to Western calendars, December is at the end of the year. Christmas is almost at the end of December. Human beings are wired to take notice of patterns, seasons and the tick over of time. With Christmas almost at the end of one year and with traditions of feasting and meeting up with extended family, what better time to also consider the year ahead? And the hope of a New Year is that its story is yet untold, there is the possibility of having dreams fulfilled, there is time to make new beginnings.

So while the approach of Christmas can be melancholy for those that cannot be with family, or will not enjoy a sumptuous feast, the New Year nevertheless beckons. Christmas, a mere week before the New Year, is a time for Christians to recall the birth of Christ the Saviour. For the Pagans, there is much to rejoice at having got at least half way through a tough winter (or trying summer)! For all it is a time to pause, to tell stories of the year gone by and to anticipate the year ahead.

However you look at it, Christmas heralds Hope, Christmas is full of Hope!

SHOULDed to the nth degree

December 15, 2010

SHOULD is a deceptive word. SHOULD is not an entirely bad word. Indeed it has the ring of being a virtuous word. However SHOULD is a word that is apt to grow tentacles. It is a word that is synonymous with obligation but it is also a word that is liable to take you places that you do not wish to go.

SHOULD can be at its most helpful when uttered lightly by a friend or a confidante. As in, “You SHOULD go for that job.” or “You SHOULD ask that person on a date.”

SHOULD grows cancerous tentacles when uttered more frequently and NOT lightly by family members and unhelpful acquaintance. As in, “You SHOULD get yourself more organised.” or “You SHOULD lose weight/save money/get married/…..” I trust you get the difference.

The most corrosive of all SHOULDS are in one’s own mind and uttered from one’s own mouth. I am currently on sick leave for at least a month. The SHOULDS that swept over me within the first few days were: clean my house, completely; get my tax returns up to date; start exercising regularly; lose weight; do useful things rather than sleeping in and watching television. And a list of smaller sundry SHOULDS.

The reason the internal SHOULDS are so corrosive is that these self exposed expectations set oneself up for failure. Three weeks into my leave I have had partial goes at most of the SHOULDS above but have completed none of them to the satisfaction of the initial SHOULD.

It was the re-discovery of this Tom On Tuesday blog about ten days ago that led to a change in my outlook. I re-discovered this blog because sometime in the last two years this blog site was hacked by some tool and my access to the site was blocked. About ten days ago I came onto the Word Press site to attempt to start another blog. I discovered that Tom On Tuesday had been unhacked, albeit that all the content had been removed. I would liken it to reformatting a hard drive. You lose all the information but at least you have control again.

So upon regaining access to Tom On Tuesday, I decided to start posting to it regularly. Of course, the inclination was to publish at least once a week on a Tuesday. I realised that with some articles in the archive, several weeks at least where I would be away from regular work and a genuine desire to write again, that perhaps I could, I might like to, commit to publishing three times a week, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. It was my first new post on procrastination that firmed up my resolve.

The best part of the previous paragraph is that the word SHOULD is absent. THAT has made the difference. There is a “could” where I decided what might be possible. There was a “would” taking account of whether I had the time for the committment. The most important phrase though is ” I might like to…”. I decided to try something without the guilt, expectation and “set up to fail” certainty of a SHOULD.

Be wary of being SHOULDed to the nth degree.

The Ultimate Answer is 42

December 10, 2010

Author’s note: Tom On Tuesday turned 42 in 2005. But he wrote this article in 2008. The reference in title of this post to 42 is drawn from Douglas Adams “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”. I always liked the idea that something so profound could be tongue in cheek reduced to something so precise. All the rest is the original work of Tom On Tuesday.

Now we know why the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe and Everything is 42. Douglas Adams wrote about it for us.

For me, if a show reel was made of the ordinary person’s life, it would be no longer than 42 minutes. Think about it. A public figure gets an hour on “This Is Your Life”. A significant historical figure may get a two hour documentary or docu-drama. Someone who changed the world is worthy of a six hour mini series.

Immodest as we are, people insist on publishing diaries, writing autobiographies and charting family trees. All of which takes considerably longer than 42 minutes.

Arguably one of the most influential people in recorded history, Jesus Christ, gets a mere five books of the New Testament to record his life. And even that chronicle is silent about Jesus’ life between the ages of about 13 and 30. In that context, a show reel (or DVD) of 42 minutes is rather generous. But with a tip of the hat to twentieth and twenty first century popular culture, 42 minutes it is.

It is 2008. I will be 45 years old in April. In the history of mankind, 45 is the age of a veteran, a grey hair, one of the third generation. Even in the early 20th century, more died before 45 than lived past it. In the 21st century, age 45 seems commonplace. Young-ish middle age. Old-ish youth. But life is precious. 45 years are precious.

42 minutes are invaluable and here are mine:

Three minutes recalling the best times I have spent with and the most valuable lessons I have learnt from my Dad and Mum, Ron and Sue. Since they are both still alive, I throw in any happy memories still to come.

Two minutes reminiscing on cricket, with some personal recollections from Steve Waugh.

Two minutes recalling every job interview where I scored the job. I really was on fire on those days.

A minute more for the most satisfying achievements in all the jobs I ever had.

Two minutes covering all that I gained from volunteer work – for every bit as much as I put in, I gained.

Two minutes to tour India, preferably culminating in a train setting off from a busy station.

Two minutes exploring my faith – from unbelief in an other world, to child like Christian belief to deconstructing what is worth keeping from what mankind has set up.

A minute remembering the worst of times – mental anguish spiralling through suicidal thoughts and actions. And still a light of hope, almost always carried by a dear loved one.

One minute with an angels’ eye view of those two motor vehicle accidents – 1986 in Queensland and 1996 in New South Wales. My time on this earth was not up then – maybe another point of view will help me see why not and how not.

A minute just to laugh – the eye watering, out of breath, literally belly aching laugh, usually at something very silly.

A minute for all the great movies, plays and performances of any kind that I witnessed – the ones that were entertaining, inspiring and just amazing in the performance.

One minute with my first love, D, who first loved me back.

One minute experiencing the giddiness of any new love.

One minute enjoying the antics of all the pets I’ve known.

Wow 21 minutes.

A minute’s silence for all those who strove and achieved a better life for themselves and those that came after them.

A minute’s silence for babies, infants and children who barely got a start to life, so missed out on much of what life has to offer.

Seven minutes with the love of my life now, K. Seven minutes will never be enough but seven minutes that I will claim nevertheless.

A minute just to laugh – the eye watering, out of breath, literally belly aching laugh, usually at something very silly – together with K.

31 minutes – 11 precious minutes more.

The minutes seem to count more when you treasure them.

A minute for the unexpected, the surprises, the things that you never thought would happen but are glad they did.

A minute for the unexpected, the surprises, the things that you never thought would happen but are glad they did – see, that was unexpected!!!

Three minutes for all the friends I have ever had – it is not a long list so they get many seconds each!

36 minutes.

Four minutes for all the adventures still to come.

And two more minutes with K.

Procrastination

December 7, 2010

So the people who know me best are already rolling around laughing their heads off. OR reading on in morbid fascination to see what develops. For I promised my self a few years ago to become a writer, an opinion columnist under the pseudonym Tom On Tuesday. And in this age I self publish in this blog.

I have had the BEST procrastinator’s excuse for only starting a few days ao – my blog got hijacked by some no name hacker around a year ago. The blog at that stage had half a dozen articles written over a couple of years. Two days ago I discovered that the blog address had been un-hacked but all the articles had gone. So BEST procrastinator’s excuse is gone!

This is article three in three days. Great start. Let’s see where I am in a week, a month or a year.

Looking through my article archive I keep in Word, I came across an article by a newspaper columnist on today’s topic: procrastination. The bottom line advice? If you want to be a writer instead of a “gunna do”, write 500 words a session BEFORE you do anything else. Household chores, errands and other activities will always be with us. Writing, whether a book, an article or some other endeavour will not appear by itself.

Interestingly while I have been writing this I have had the TV on “Minute to Win It” and I have had one incoming phone call. But tonight, I am back at the keyboard and heading for 500 words. The current task on “Minute to Win It” is a bloke bouncing pencils end on to try to get them in a glass. Ironic considering that another name for procrastination is “pencil sharpening”. See, distractions from the task at hand are always around, even if some of them are pencil bluntening!

More advice for the world class procrastinator reading this. Watch the movie “Dead Poet’s Society” again. Carpe Diem is not merely for school pranks and youthful enthusiasm. For anyone who has come to a road block in life or an avenue of life, reclaim your enthusiasm and drive to do whatever it is that you have promised yourself. That was the message that I got from revisiting “Dead Poet’s Society”.

Will I rid myself of procrastination by this concentrated burst of energy. Well, yes, for today. But procrastination is a constant companion. For me, procrastination has a couple of precursors. One, I procrastinate because I have become stuck with a task and I am not sure how to progress or how to complete the task. That is okay if it can be fixed with a coffee, a quick walk or some other temporary break. It is not helped if the stuck task is filed away for “later”. Later rarely seems to come until later is someone else’s NOW!

Second, I procrastinate because I am bored with the present job and would rather be doing something else. This is also okay until the task to be done later becomes someone else’s NOW!

Do I have the permanent answer for procrastination? No. But this article helped. Woo hoo, now I’m a self help writer! So, this column is not quite as clever or witty as others I have penned but it is determined. Determined to amount to 500 words! Ah yes, now 557 words.