Aim high, ride easy, trust the Universe

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The smell swept through my house and into my room, I was avoiding the day with a cup of tea and a cuddling cat ... The smell pulled me out of my funk and into the gratitude that is my life.

I am all too often wracked with the hamlet questions. Am I on the right path? Should I be doing more? Knowing more? Achieving more. The enormous questions that my conscious mind refuses to let up on but it's that voice, that constant evaluation that keeps me moving, keeps me pushing for more. The question I'm currently tripping up on again and again is 'what exactly has my life proved so far'? Where is the legacy? What am I leaving in my wake? How am I improving this world and when I'm gone what will I be remembered for?

I don't know and this morning I was wandering around in those thoughts until the grass came calling.

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This morning I woke, like most other mornings, blissfully drifting into my day. My world, both the inner and outer one, is for an instant a blank canvas—an emptiness of infinite potential. I remember, but often don’t, that the unshaped world will take shape according to my state of being, consciousness, awareness. Moving from deep sleep and dreaming to waking, the world is not yet formed, it is waiting for us.

But this morning the world wasn’t waiting to form in some instances and its beyond my comprehension. As I grappled with the thoughts I read something that offered some perspective “ .. the perfection of every issue is beyond human comprehension. We can’t be fooled, there are no mistakes. The territory behind us and the challenges at hand are precisely crafted to deliver us the wisdom and insights that’ll continue us in life.”

I know we didn’t come here to face hurdle after hurdle; it’s not as if that, by mastering our issues today, more will be added tomorrow, that only happens when we deny our issues in the first place. So we master them and move on.

So today let’s get through what we must get through, understand what troubles us, do what we can do today. So little can really yield so much; a new perspective, an admission, a surrender to truth - no matter how painful - changes everything. So, I guess here we go, into the wild.
 

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... but I know that being happy is choice. I know, it's bloody annoying and one of those things some bumper sticker would instantly put me in a bad mood by displaying but, in my opinion, it's true!

I've said before but when I was younger I remember not being consciously happy but rather consciously, painstakingly, melancoly. After many years, and way too many Sarah Mclachlan songs I came around to understanding that being happy was a daily practice and one that was worth practising.

So instead of this beautiful melancoly song I choose this uplifting song - both equally moving but, for me, I'll choose happiness every day and twice on Sundays!

Happy daze one and all.

 

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For years I felt that I was on the outside looking in. Everyone around me seemed to just get on with life and yet I agonised over every day; sure there were moments when I was just a kid and life went on around me whilst I laughed and played and enjoyed my adventurous life - but nothing was ever random to me.


I’m into my fourth decade now and still the conversations go on only they are different now; there’s a sense of wonderment about life and everything I’m so blessed to have seen / experienced and garnered so far. A while ago I decided to just stop tolerating bullshit, my own and others. Plastering a smile onto a shit situation helps no-one and perpetuates the feeling that we’ve all got to keep pretending that living and learning is easy when it isn’t.


In doing that, in being honest - with myself mainly - I feel like I’m lighting my own way, making a difference, building a bridge, living the truths that are revealed to me and perhaps that will help others do the same. I’ve always seen the world differently and now I’m grateful for that.

 

Remember the fire's always within.

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There is this glorious song by Birdy and every time I hear it the words catch in my throat, I end up slowing down to look around and tonight was no exception.

I was driving home and, pulling up to a traffic light there, in the middle of the road, was a woman curled up into herself - dejected and crying tears of utter desperation and loneliness. As I rolled slowly up to the lights all I could feel was the immense sadness of those tears; I think we’ve all cried them for different reasons. The tears that pull us to the ground and engulf everything around us - like a black hole of nothingness sucking us into it for the belief that there was just nowhere else to go.

There was this woman and, with no idea of her background, situation or the circumstances that led her to that spot, I felt ‘there but for the grace of God go I’. Her small face and dark sad eyes looked up towards me and I was completely lost. I don’t know what happens to us really - I know stuff I’ve learned and read but what really draws us apart? What really makes my journey this evening so remarkably easy and what makes hers so desperately difficult.

Birdy’s song is so idealistic it’s brilliant - people should help the people and nothing will drag you down? Right? Did I help this evening, sure but in my way, I’ve no idea if that helped her or me. On I rolled and there she stayed.

"Oh and if I had a brain … I’d be cold as a stone and rich as a fool that turned all those good hearts away"

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About a week ago I had finished at a client and I called him to say I was heading back to the office; he answered the call in a fairly customary 'Hiya' and I was immediately shot back in time.

There was my life, and it seemed like just yesterday for the vividness of my memories, and that life consisted of the voice at the end of the phone being of Jekyyl the well known alter ego to our Hyde. The moment he was left alone - or rather I wasn't around - his mind would immediately be pulled to his dealer and we'd lose him either to a craving or the giving in to that craving - either way the results were exactly the same - he was gone and in his place would reside a panicky, devious, gibbering, paranoid shadow of himself.

And last week I was reminded of those days - the panic I would feel when I knew I had to leave the house - I remember so clearly planning my day and days, weighing up the benefit of running all meetings in one day even if that day meant it would run from dawn 'till dusk because at least, then, the fall out would be just one day. But it was never just one day because a bender would start days before and end weeks later. It was cyclical. It was debilitating. It was all consuming. And it was my life for so long. I never thought we'd see the light of day.

Not so long ago he asked me if I ever thought he'd be rid of the drugs, the cravings, the alter egos and, in taking my time to respond, I said No. I had to admit I'd not allowed myself that optimism. It had permeated our lives - and the lives of many other people - for so long that I don't think I hoped that it could ever be different.

Life is different now - he white-knuckled his way through it working endlessly and tirelessly to rid his life of almost all of his triggers and I know the effort it took / takes; always looking to be more, say more, love more but you see the truth is an addict is always an addict; whilst the cocaine was replaced by coffee, cigarettes, sky-diving, running, mountain-biking and now booze it’s all different sides of the same coin.

It took me a long time to understand that addiction isn’t weighing up your options to make better choices it’s just an action and a reaction - the thing is that there are always choices then consequences and people being caught in the middle.

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..when I can take time to just be. I like being up early (when I wake naturally that is) because I can unfold my day with a semblance of quiet, I can slowly perform the rituals of breakfast feeding of my 4-legged companions whilst my 2-legged one still sleeps.

It's in the quiet and the calm that I'm reminded time and again that it's the little things that make a rich life and here's to a rich life.

 

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It can be easy to judge can't it? It takes no effort, no consciousness, awareness or thoughtful process. Imagine if every time we found ourselves in judgement of another we stopped and thought 'Where am I  like that? Where do I display that thinking / action / behaviour / attitude?'. When it's not in ourselves we can often see a challenged situation for what it is and without judgement - it's someone growing.

"Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It's a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognise our shared humanity" Pema Chodron.

 

 

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Isn't Mark Twain famous for (amongst other things) saying 'The more I know about humans the better I like my dog'? well I can echo that thought, a lot.

As an animal person, in that I love all animals, I find them fascinating to observe. Over my many years and the many animals I've been blessed to know and love I've learnt tremendously from them all - there's much we can learn if we just pay attention. 

This TED talk, by Laurel Braitman, is both kind and compelling - worth the time.

 

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We are the proud owners of three dogs and two cats (with loving memories of many more). About 18 months ago Sam, our golden retriever puppy, chose us and we've never looked back!

One day I was watching him play in the garden and I said to my Mum "If I lived my life like Sam I'd be perpetually happy." In that moment Sam gave me the gift of choosing happiness and since then I've tried to live my life more like him. I can't say I'm happy all the time but I'm certainly conscious that I can choose to be and, for the most part, I'm tremendously happy.

Those of us who choose to share our lives with our four-legged friends know what Matt McDermott is saying in his beautiful article in absolutely true. Enjoy the article and choose to be happy.

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"The less you associate with some people, the more your life will improve. Any time you tolerate mediocrity in others, it increases your mediocrity. An important attribute in successful people is their impatience with negative thinking and negative acting people. As you grow, your associates will change. Some of your friends will not want you to go on. They will want you to stay where they are. Friends that don’t help you climb will want you to crawl. Your friends will stretch your vision or choke your dream. Those that don’t increase you will eventually decrease you"

Full article here

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Have you ever found yourself lost well after the fact? Like your aimless driving was actually heading in a direction until, well, it wasn’t!

I had something like that happen to me recently. I didn’t realise how off track I was with something / someone and now I can’t believe the distance we’ve travelled. The small gaps I noticed but excused away have all of a sudden become a chasm and it seems non-sensical. If I’m honest I knew that it was happening and, sporadically, I would try to reconnect but soon - sooner than I really understood - it become easier not to, apparently. It wasn’t a conscious choice but it was a choice nonetheless.

For my non-horsey friends here’s the ‘yawn’ part! I was riding today and my horse did this ‘thing’ - he often does it and I carry on obliviously. Today I didn’t. I immediately corrected it and, no surprise, it  changed everything (for today's ride anyhow).

That old saying ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ echoed in my mind but I was left thinking - well why now? What made it happen today?

The truth is I don’t know. I don’t know why I hear certain things time and again but don’t implement them. I don’t know why I let things slip. I don’t know why I got lost, and probably will again. I don't know why I didn't correct my course when I knew I was lost. I just don't know. But what I do know, and what I think matters, is that I found my way again - well at least I’m no longer lost and that counts - right?

 

 

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I was thinking about how random life can be. How each of our days are made up of moments and, unless we stop to connect the dots, they get lost and before we know it's another year and another life

A friend of mine - an old friend (not old in her years - or mine for that matter - but old in how long we've known each other) was injured the day before yesterday.  We're both horse riders and, for the most part, supremely blessed not to have had major injuries to date (considering that horses are pretty large animals) But she was hurt, and badly so.

I know she's looking back on life - things - moments - and appreciating how blessed she is (despite the screws and wires; broken teeth and bones) but she's here.

What is it about youth that makes us careless and age that makes us cautious? Actually I don't think that cautious is the right word I think it's 'aware'. Age offers us the opportunity to understand life's lessons whereas youth just swallows them and moves on without the necessary appreciation of the knowledge we've just garnered.

In my youth I struggled with melancholy choosing to listen to sad songs and crying big tears of not knowing. As I gathered the years I replaced the tears with smiles, the sad songs with happy ones and the 'not knowing' with understanding.

It started with being in the moment, connecting the dots and seeing the bigger picture of life because its our dreams that make our stories and what are we without those?

 

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We have been accepted onto a mentorship programme - by we I mean our small business - which I'm very proud of! And a couple of weeks ago we joined the induction programme with a range of interesting people with their own agendas but all with a deep commitment to seeing things differently.

One of the facilitators charged us with writing down both the challenges and the jubilations of being our own-bosses; it was a fun but ultimately eye-opening experience when we realised that we all experience the same or at least similar highs and lows and, if we're brave or bold enough, we can view the peaks and valleys differently by choosing to do so.

Towards the end of the evening a video, by National Geographic photographer Dewitt Jones, was shared with us and it was glorious. I'm a sucker for motivational words and thoughts, this was no exception but the main principle is something that I'm taking with me into my day to day and that is 'celebrate what's right with the world'.

When we focus on being the best for the World and not in the World we really can transform the ordinary into the extraordinary - the right vision keeps us open to possibility so here's to celebrating everything that is right.

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Faith is hard to find, in however you define faith. My faith is not born from an upbringing of religion or a certain affliction to one denomination, mine is born of a learned belief that everything will 'be alright in the end'. I'm not sure when I learnt to trust myself and please know that I have ongoing dialogue around that trust but I do - trust myself that is.

My beloved housekeeper drew my attention to something that bothers her about me just the other day (I love her for that - amongst other things - because she reminds me that being truly authentic takes daily reflection); she made me realise that in my independence I can sometimes hurt the people I love the most, even if that hurt is unintentional.

This evening I finished a 'feel good' book whose ultimate outline was that sometimes we just need to believe in order to see and it resonated so deeply with me because it's true (for me). Not having a spiritual guiding in my younger life led me on all sorts of journeys around what made sense to me, a journey that I hope will never end. Currently where I sit is that we're all energy and, as such, we deely affect and effect each other - nothing is random.

I am utterly loved in my life not least of which is because I truly love - and on goes the list of things I can appreciate and, for which, I'm immensly grateful. I read something today which I embrace; "you cannot find what you have been struggling for but you can create it and the jump-start of creation is gratitude.

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That's me - at times - the pieces part I mean. I know it was the title of a book that was then tarnished but it's still a good description - does it describe all of us? Do you feel like some mornings you wake up, figure out what day it is and then put yourself back together? Or maybe we're just constantly building ourselves - using what was learned yesterday, making ourselves just that little bit more unique than the day before.

The other day a friend gave me a tip on how to enhance memory in our increasing age and I jumped at it because, what I fear the most about growing old is losing mine. A couple of dear family friends seem to be lurking around in the dementia halls and whilst they seem utterly delighted with life I can't help but remember (good sign) what they were like before - the sharp wit and delightful stories of lives well lived. They still live life well, just differently.

And then I read this article about what you can garner from your 40s and, as I'm wandering around in this territory, the title got my attention. All the points rang true around caring less what other people think, finding your feet and being bold enough to follow those feet but it doesn't mention the pieces. Having traversed three decades and now into my fourth there are things we all care about - memory, love, relationships, life lessons, change, happiness, integrity, making a difference and the list goes on - but what continues to strike me is that we all have a mantle. It doesn't matter how shiny our lives look from the outside when we're alone, the reality isn't the show reel.

Sure we can learn lessons from each other - assuming of course we're willing to learn - but we still have to face our fears. Perhaps your fears and mine are cut from the same cloth but it doesn't make it any less tangible?

For most of us fear plays a roll in our lives, perhaps a considered companion. Mine is, for the most part, quietly contained in the corner of my mind but at times, not . To fear and her follies, this morning I pieced myself together, I knew the day, my purpose and my passions and along you came with your dark eyes and sneering smile and, just like that, tried to dismantle me from what day it is, who I am and what I was doing to begin with.

Then I remind myself - it's about getting up every day and doing what we do, putting ourselves back together and - within our sphere of influence - making today matter. One of my favourite authors said in her latest TED talk that all we need to do, every day, is put your head down and perform with diligence, devotion, respect and reverence whatever the task is that love is calling forth from you next and everything will be okay.

I agree. Everything will be okay.

 

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We're not parent's to two-legged beings but we have dogs and cats (I'm not one for the 'fur-kids' thing!) but we consider ourselves a family - the grinch (the not-so-tongue-in-cheek reference to my significant other) and I. Anyhow this post isn't about words it's about our dogs and cats who are lucky to have the grinch as their dad. Happy Fathers day one and all.

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I understand that death isn't finite. I get that whilst we can't see our lost people they are still there. I also get that our intellect and our emotions don't always meet at the same time.

Harry, my Jack Russell, died a short while ago and I still find myself echoing around his space. We have a busy and small house but he has left a big gaping hole of energy. This quote, from The Life of Pi resonated with me: "He left me so unceremoniously it broke my heart I have to believe there was more than my own reflection staring back at me. I know it. I felt it. Even if I can't prove it. In the end I suppose the whole of life becomes a letting go".

On most days I weigh up that, as an emotional person, heart and head don't always meet in the middle so I go for an average. Some days I'm bat s..t crazy (Thanks Tobes) and other days I'm perfectly measured but it all comes out in the wash - I look for the overall in everything, that the good outweighs the bad. It's just perspective, right? It's just how we see things?

Let's be clear here - I'm not wandering around in pitty-ville wringing my hands at how hard my life is. I'm talking about a pet. Some of my closest and dearest friends are, on a daily basis, dealing with far bigger elements like losing their life-partner, serious illness, decisions that seem insurmountable - there is simply no comparison.

I'm not measuring grief/ doubt or crippling indecision though I simply saying that it has to be acknowledged in whatever small, messy or unplanned manner. So if you're sad - for whatever reason, big or small, know that I am too (if that helps!) Not right now - but I will be. Again. And then it will be OK. Again. Because it is, always, OK. If we choose it that way.

"... in the end I suppose the whole of life becomes a letting go ..."

Here's to letting go.

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