Archive | January, 2012

I try…climbing rocks

30 Jan

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On the weekend, I gave rock climbing a go. Not actual rocks, but coloured sticky-out things on an old wall. In a humid converted shed where skinny-muscly dudes (you know, those teeny tiny ones who have oddly massive arms?) with cool climbers’ names like Diago and Rocky (ok, maybe not), force you to wear a tight nappy-like harness before they scamper away up a 10 metre wall.

Being a bit of a princess and slightly height-a-phobic (or acrophobic, whatevs), the thought of hauling my harness-stuffed butt up a tall wall with only a rope to separate me from a painful death, was a terrifying one. But I was surrounded by hoards of six year olds who were practically swinging upside down from the ceiling. The Lad was also in attendance, as was his sister and her friend who was so pro (on only her second time rock climbing!) that she rivaled the instructors. Hence, I had to fight back the tears, grab hold of the tiny, slippery knobbly things and power up the wall.

On my first climb, I got about three metres off the ground, before looking down and screaming, ‘OK, I’M DONE NOW!’ I didn’t even wait for The Lad (who was holding the safety rope below) to give me the ‘come down’ signal. I threw myself away from the wall. And slammed back into it. Hard. Thankfully, The Lad then lowered me gently to the ground. Unfortunately, he forgot to slacken the rope, so I was left hopping around in circles, attempting to pull out a heinous harness wedgie.

Later on, I decided to launch up a ladder. It looked pretty easy – the ladder was on an angle and stretched to the ceiling. I slowly stepped up the rungs, trying not to look down at the ground as it disappeared below me. Then, about halfway up, the ladder suddenly swung around on itself, twisting and turning. Within seconds I was hanging off the side with one leg looped through the rope, twirling and whirling. The shed spun. It was like Cirque du Soleil – the audition rejects special. My foot then popped out of the rung and I fell away from the ladder. So I was essentially floating in mid-air, in a seated position, with yet another wedgie. Tres embarrassing!

Since my new motto is to give myself over, wholly and fully, to new experiences, I didn’t let the ladder episode dampen my spirits. I tried a few more climbs and each time edged closer to the top of the wall. I didn’t quite make it to the ceiling. But I still ventured further off the ground than I thought I could. And to me, that was success. Next time, I’ll reach the top. Yes, believe it or not, I’m going to give it another go!

Have you tried rock climbing? What did you like/not like about it?

Why I’m ditching perfection

29 Jan

I had a revelation yesterday. It happened while I was shovelling a giant spoonful of Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk in my gob. I realised that most of the time, I’m all good. I’m not perfect. But I’m doin’ alright.

There’s this economic theory that I struggle to get my head around (maths, bleurgh). It’s known as the 80/20 rule. Something to do with getting 20% of results from 80% of your efforts. Or maybe it’s getting 80% of results from 20% of your efforts. Who knows. My head hurts.

My spin on the 80/20 rule is that I eat well, move my body, pluck and preen, save my dosh, feed my mind and bust out some killer creativity 80% of the time. The rest of the time I’m indulging in a cocktail. Watching crap TV. Splurging at Myer. Scoffing sickly-sweet, fattening, fake, yet oh-so-fabulous ice cream.

Because those things make me happy – sometimes. I know that if I overindulge, if I starve my mind and spirit, if I ignore my creativity, I’ll crash. The balance will tip. Everything will be out of whack. And there’s a good chance I’ll cry (damn you, sugar-induced crash!)

But if I keep on track most of the time and indulge just that little bit each week, I keep the equilibrium. I’m happier. Rather than beating myself up about having a sweet treat, I taste it wholly and fully. I let the flavour linger on my tongue. And then the next day, I enjoy a revitalising hour-long walk to work. Or I’ll follow up a lazy afternoon on the couch watching reality TV re-runs, with a soothing meditation or an intense writing session.

The 80/20 rule makes sense (or at least my interpretation of it does!) Always do what’s best for your body, soul and mind. 80% of the time it’ll be in accordance with your plans and resolutions. 20% of the time it’ll be just for fun. And a little indulgent.

Go with it.

Perfection is so last year…

Wordless inspirations…

28 Jan

Today, I’m not really feeling inspired to write. The words just aren’t there. The ideas have vanished. So I thought I would share some image inspirations with you instead. Pictures have power. I hope these stir something inside.

Source: piccsy.com via Bridgette on Pinterest

I try…floating without thought

23 Jan

On the weekend, I floated. I disappeared into a dark, warm coffin-like tank, closed the lid and closed my eyes.

The thick, salty water supported my aching body. It was almost like a magnet. I tried to duck down under the surface, but bounced back up.

A soft meditative tune eased me into a light sleep.

I had lucid dreams.

I drifted.

My arm gently nudged the edge of the tank. In response, the tank tapped me back to its centre.

The music ended.

I was alone with my thoughts. The earplugs blocked out all other distractions.  It’s a hard thing, stilling the mind. I thought about what I would eat for lunch, what I had to buy from Westfield, what time I should head home from Bondi. I urged my mind to silence itself: ‘These thoughts can wait. Be still. This is your moment to rest. So, rest.’

Moments later, I drifted back into a light sedation.

It wasn’t an easy state in which to slip.

My first float, more than six months ago, was anything but relaxing! I couldn’t calm my thoughts; I scratched my face and stung my eyes with the salty water. The strings of my bikini top dug into my shoulders. I kept wondering when the hour would be up. I gave up, telling myself, ‘I’ve never been good at meditating!’

This time around, I was in a different mood. I gave my mind a pep talk. I silenced it as soon as it wandered. I also knew what to expect, which made a big difference. And I floated naked. It felt wonderfully free and graceful. I didn’t worry. I didn’t force it. I just was.

A soft, serene song brought me back to the present.

I was aware of the tank, my softened body and my thoughts.

I slowly emerged from the tank. Salty slime slipped off my body.

After a quick shower and shampoo, I was ready for the next treat – a one hour massage.

When my friend and I left the clinic, we felt slightly off-balance. The glare and lights and noise of the street hit us harshly. It took time to feel our feet.

They say it takes a few floats to completely unwind and give yourself over to the experience. I’m looking forward to my next session. For one hour of absolute peace. One hour of thoughtless, mindless meandering in a warm bath. It’s well worth it.

I went along to Bondi Junction Massage & Float Centre. This is an unsponsored, unaffiliated post.

Have you ever used a floatation tank? Did you enjoy the experience?

My night in with a psychic

22 Jan

On Friday night, I Skyped a psychic.

It was my second-ever reading with a spiritual teacher. The first was over a year ago at The Oracle, a cosy dimly-lit terrace nestled in The Rocks – Sydney’s age-old suburb. A friendly woman named Petra had me shuffle, sift and sort a pack of tarot cards and predicted a content and successful future. She also said several specific things about The Lad that wouldn’t apply to just anyone. Despite having gone to The Oracle with trepidation, I left with a warm heart and less-heavy shoulders.

This time around, I had an instant message (online chat) reading with Anna Castello. Wellness blogger Sarah Wilson had recently shared an interview with Anna and, intrigued, I made contact with her to ask if she would also have a session with me. I wanted to go into the reading with an open mind. I tend to be quite a rational, practical person, so sometimes it’s a struggle to just let things unfold and not listen to the voice that says, ‘Really? Come on!’

I’ll admit, I was a little unsure about having a spiritual conversation over a seemingly sterile medium. It seemed odd to be sitting at my laptop, freshly-washed hair twisted into a loose bun, awaiting a psychic reading. Though as Anna pointed out, ‘IM [instant messaging] is quite good because it really does take an genuine psychic to be able to use it. There are no verbal or visual cues.’

Anna started by delving into my energy – where I’m at now and my tendencies to analyse and strive for perfection. She confirmed a lot of specifics about my life, my struggles, my blockages and dreams. She tapped into my strong desire to help others and explained why my counselling diploma and organising business didn’t quite work out. ‘These things didn’t fully progress because although they are within your vibration and attractive for that reason, they are not quite “on path” for you. So the universe, divinity, however you’d like to understand it, gently pushed you back onto your path.’ It made so much sense – those ventures had felt right at the time but didn’t fulfill me. I didn’t get that intuitive rush, that feeling that I had conquered my calling.

We then moved onto the future, and how I can use my gifts to help others and leave a legacy. Then Anna touched on something I’ve been struggling with for a while. Having found Christianity as a teenager, I’ve since attempted to fit experiences and strange encounters into the realms of the religion. It hasn’t worked, because I haven’t been able to explain those experiences using my current belief system. Anna encouraged me to see spirituality as ‘a big smorgasbord’. I love that – a spiritual smorgasbord. It’s all spirituality. It’s all sensing and intuition and belief. It’s not Christian and non-Christian. It isn’t black and white.

I finished the session with a strong sense of my purpose and a desire to keep seeking health, truth, love and light. Though Anna reminded me that it isn’t scripted. I can always choose a different path. ‘This future isn’t fated, it’s just the most likely future for you based on your energy right now and where you’re headed. You do have free will, and you could choose a different path. It’s up to you what you do with your life. But this is where I see it going right now,’ Anna said.

It’s certainly a path I want to take. And who knows where it might lead?

You can contact Anna Castello for a reading here.

Anna is currently travelling in New Zealand and is making her way to Hawaii.

From ‘I’m not’ to ‘I am’

19 Jan

How often do we say ‘I am not’? I’m no good at maths. I’m unfit. I can’t save money. I know I say ‘I’m not’ quite a bit.

On the other hand, how many times a day do we say, ‘I am’? I’m healthy. I’m my fittest self. I attract money.

Less often?

This was the theme of Dr. Wayne Dyer’s recent Sydney seminar – ‘Wishes Fulfilled’ – at which he launched his new book of the same name. By telling our subconscious mind that we are fit, we are loved, we are writing a best-selling book (for example), we change our thoughts. Those thoughts become our reality. That reality becomes truth.

I’ll be honest. I went along to Dr. Dyer’s seminar as a skeptic. Not having seen him on stage or read his work, I assumed he’d be just another motivation speaker rattling off the standard self-help stuff. ‘Alright buddy, sell it to me,’ I directed him in my mind. My cynical mind!

Bit by bit, hour by hour, I let Dr Dyer’s message wash over me. It chipped away at my cynicisms. It melted my misconceptions about my mind and my self. I realised that every time I put myself down, or I tell myself ‘I can’t’, or I believe that I am not, those thoughts become my reality. When I moan about a hard day at work, the next day is always a struggle. When I lie in bed and worry about the future or mull over something hurtful that was said to me that day, my dreams are disturbing and I awaken tired and sluggish.

I won’t go into too much detail about Dr Dyer’s seminar. You can read my article about it on the Natural Therapy Pages here.

But I will say that I did a little experiment last night. Just to see if the doc was right. In those precious moments before drifting off to sleep, I told my self ‘I am loved’, ‘I am happy’, ‘I am my fittest, healthiest self’ and ‘I am making a difference’. I might not have woken up with a halo hovering over my head. But I did start my day more peaceful and, dare I say it, a little ‘enlightened’. And, most surprising of all, I woke up ten minutes before my alarm and bounded out of bed, ready for boot camp. After having just five hours sleep. Woop woop!

There’s still a lot of work to do. Some challenges to face. Many entrenched thoughts to reverse. But I feel like I’m taking a step in the right direction.

The call for more pet-friendly rentals

17 Jan

In a North Sydney ground floor flat, two twenty-something women lived with a miniature schnauzer named Charlie. They had rescued the nervy pup from a nearby pet shop. They didn’t ask the landlord’s permission and the three of them lived happily together without raising any eyebrows. It was only when the women decided to move out, that the agent said, ‘Please ensure the carpets are steam cleaned to remove pet odour and hair.’

One of those women was me. We were lucky. Despite ignoring the ‘no pets’ clause on our lease (oops), we were allowed to parade our pooch around the property. And I’m happy to report that our timid, wiry-haired puppy grew into a confident, energetic and well-loved dog.

Which is why I was saddened to read in a news story today that more people are having to give up or put down their pets, because they cannot find an animal-friendly property.

According to the RSPCA, 30 per cent of pets given to the organisation are from people who cannot find animal-friendly accommodation.

Why are landlords adverse to pets?

As with most things, it comes down to money. Landlords view pets as a risk and indeed, perhaps the standard bond of four weeks’ rent doesn’t give them enough peace of mind that the property won’t be left damaged, dirty or smelling like wet dog.

In my experience, pets leave little mess. Their naughty deposits on the carpet can be easily cleaned. And, provided they have been properly trained and get enough exercise, their damage to the home is minimal. They might chew a shoe, but the only person that will annoy is you!

If our landlord had asked us to pay additional bond money for having Charlie in the flat, I would have happily paid it. My housemate and I were also fully aware that any damage to walls, doors, floors and the like would come out of our bond. Just as it would if we had caused the damage ourselves. We even forked out for a behaviourist to stop Charlie barking when we were both out.

I imagine most pet owners would be happy to pay a higher bond, if it meant their beloved fluffy friend could live with them.

Property Owners Association of Queensland president Bruce McBryde, echoes my views in the article. He too suggests a larger bond to both entice landlords to accepting applicants with pets, and to protect the premises.

“Ideally if you really want to make landlords more pet friendly you need to change the regulations to allow them to take a bigger bond,” Mr McBryde said.

“At least then the landlord would have more incentive.”

Why do we need more pet-friendly properties?

Australia has one of the highest levels of pet ownership in the world, with 40 per cent of households owning a dog (source). Coupled with the rise in high-density, inner-city living, more people will require rentals that give the tick to pets.

University of Tasmania sociologist Adrian Franklin says it’s also a social issue, as a pet ban in rentals means many Australians will be “condemned to lonely and unhealthy lives”. He points to an ageing population which will require more assistance and companion animals in future years.

All of these factors suggest that it’s time for rental regulations to change. Yes, there will always be a small group of people who mistreat their rental homes. Though as RSPCA spokesperson Michael Beatty says, “If you look at it logically, someone who is going to take good care of their animal is going to take good care of their property.”

So let’s loosen up, accept the stats and come to an agreement that both landlords and pet owners are happy with.

Have you had issues finding a pet-friendly property?

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