The Purpose of life is a life of purpose

I have been thinking lately, all about purpose. We all have one. We all have something unique and special we can offer the world. Something that can help others, something that can start a trickle effect that may not just affect the here and now but generations to come. It may be something that seems relatively simple… such as being a parent. But let me give you an example. Lets say Josie came from a family where her mother cared for her very little and her father was out of the picture. Her mother may have been an alcoholic who had hit her a few times over the years, put her down so much that her mothers voice eventually became the narrative of her own inner dialogue and stayed with her even after her mother passed away. When she became a mother herself, at only 18 years old, and the father left soon after she thought that naturally she was going the same way as her mother and that her little daughter would be in the same position that she was in when she turned 18. Sometimes we get into this thought pattern, that the best sign of future behaviour is past behaviour. Where sometimes this can be correct, it is not a rule. Josie happened to have started to cry one day, weighed down by the chip on her shoulder. Instead of giving in, she stood up. She decided in that moment that she was not going down the same road and that she would rather throw the chip into the wind than to ever pass it on to her daughter. Now, a change and a decision like this does not come easy in any circumstance. Josie knew she had to start somewhere and the start for her was to get a job. It was not easy passing her little girl over to the lady at the day-care but she did it because working was a step in her plans to reach her goal. When she got home she was exhausted and began cry because she was even too tired to even play with her daughter. But she put aside 15 minutes to play before feeding, bathing and putting her daughter to bed. Something her mother had never done for her. And sometimes as she lay watching her daughter sleep she was overcome with loss and grief and regret. She wished that she had known what it felt like as a child to be so tenderly loved by a mother. Eventually she worked her way to a management position at her local grocery store and managed to buy a car so she would not have to walk everywhere anymore. She put her daughter into her car seat on the weekends and went for drives to zoos and markets and parks. It was at the park she met Mark, who was a divorcee with a small son of his own. They clicked right away and were married 4 years later. Because of the pay rise she received when she became area manager of a total of 15 stores, she was able to afford to put her daughter into a private school and her daughter developed a love of learning. With her tax return she bought her daughter a violin and booked in many lessons and so her daughter developed a love of music. She excelled and was accepted into an exclusive music program and when her daughter was 18 years old she was offered a scholarship at an elite university which she excitedly accepted. Josie had by then become the state manager of over a hundred stores and she and her husband bought a larger house so that they could accommodate the twins they were expecting. Josie sometimes felt sad that as she had grown she had left her mother behind her. She wished that she had known everything she now knew because she felt she could have helped her mother. But she also knew that if her mother and her life had started out any differently she would not have had the life she had today or the children. So instead of feeling sorry for herself she thanked her mother for giving her the, not the best start, but the right start for her because it bought her everything she had come to know and love. It had made her a better person and a better mother. She was grateful for the sense of purpose that her mother had blessed her with.

A sense of purpose is what the Japanese call “Ikagi” and is one of their most important secrets to longevity. Josie’s purpose in life was to give her daughter a better shot at life and also to live the life she knew she deserved. Your purpose in life does not have to be “safe the world!” or “feed all the poor!” or “give away all your worldly possessions”. It can really be anything! A good place to start is asking yourself ‘what is the most important thing to me?’ Once you figure that out the next step is deciding what you want out life and to make some goals and plans to get there. I am still in the process of trying to figure out what my own purpose in life is. The most important thing in my life is my family (the same with the majority of us I’m sure!) but I am also passionate about the less fortunate (the homeless and disadvantaged children in particular) and on a lighter note I am also passionate about writing and like to dabble in a bit of social sciences, philosophy, psychology, health and spirituality in particular. I know my purpose lingers around those lines but its a process in getting there. It takes a lot of courage too, courage I am not yet sure I possess (but hey, were all works in progress!)

So have a think about what your purpose in life may be and report back to me 🙂 Id love to hear about it!

As for me, Im off to bed. Sweet dreams all x

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Let go of negative thoughts

I watched these videos the other day after hearing about this episode of Oprah from a friend. I think it some way we all suffer from negative thoughts in some form. Sometimes it is things like “I forgot to pick up the dry-cleaning. Why am I so forgetful? I always do this. I cant even remember something as simple as dry-cleaning… What else could I forget? Could I forget something important like turn the stove off at night? That could hurt someone… I am such a horrible person” and so it can go on if you allow it. I, myself, have suffered from negative thoughts especially while I had anxiety. I would pick myself apart, everything I did was wrong. I have recovered with the help of a change in my diet and lifestyle and nutritional supplementation but I also had to commit myself to changing my frame of mind. I did something very similar in my own situation to what Mr. Singer describes doing when he comes across a negative thought.
“I’m so useless. Look at everyone else, they are so figured out. I will never have that. I am ugly and dumb and lazy” these were my own thoughts back then. I realize how silly and cruel those kinds of thoughts are now because I am in a place these days where I actually love and appreciate who I am, what I value and what I can offer to the world. To overcome such thought I sat down one night and compiled a list of all of my favourite quotes. I wrote them up in my own handwriting on blank sheets of paper and posted them around the house. On the fridge, next to my bed, on the back of the bathroom door. I also wrote down things that I love about myself. Things such as “I am a caring person who always tries to help others”, “I am artistic and free-thinking” and “I have something great to offer the world”. You don’t even have to read them every day… sometimes just having them there is enough… they seem to sub-consciously seep into your mindset and settle there 🙂

I love in the video how Mr. SInger discusses leaning away from a thought (not literally but mentally – or both if you want to!) and not entertaining it. You have to recognise that a thought is a thought and not hand your power over to it. It did sound odd when I first watched the clip however… that we are not our thoughts… that our thoughts are not us… but as I kept listening I realised that he has a point, that our inner voice is our stream of consciousness which really never does stop chatting away, day in and day out. The part about our thoughts being an expression of our psyche and not our soul was really eye-opening. We are more than our thoughts. We are observers of our own life in a way. The reason we think at all is to make sense of the world around us and to come up with our own opinions and values and morals. But everyday we go through life with a certain set of moral standards and values which have grown and developed over many, many years. From birth really. Part of the reason I believe some thoughts are just so disturbing to us is that some go directly against our moral code. No place is this more obvious than in a person suffering with OCD. The majority of people have thoughts that are sad, shocking and sometimes even disturbing but the difference between your average Jo or Jane having the thoughts to someone with OCD is that Jo and Jane will let that thought pass by them without really worrying about its content. They realize that it does not reflect on them as a person. Someone with OCD or anxiety may develop a severe reaction to the thought because the asked one simple question… “what if?”

Something like letting go of negative thoughts takes practice and time. There is no point in “supressing the white bear” such as in “Winter Notes on Summer Impressions,” by Fyodor Dostoevsky’s (1863) where he described sitting with his back to an expanse of polar plains with his friends, challenging each other to sit with their eyes closed and not think about Polar bears which they knew could sneak up on them at any time. But he found that the more he tried to force the thought of the bear out of his mind, the more and more he thought about it. So it is with our own thoughts also. The more and more we try to force one of out of our mind the harder and fiercer it returns.

Give it a try and see how you find it. Accept the thought as you would any other and lean away from it. You have plenty of time in your life to return to it later if you wish, or you can let it pass by without much notice like you would if you were thinking about a vase or a cup or a bird.

This has helped me in my life more than I can express. I hope it can help you too.

My first loss :)

And this is why I want to keep going and lose the weight. To be with him for as long as possible :)

And this is why I want to keep going and lose the weight. To be with him for as long as possible 🙂

Well I have had an exceptional week 🙂 Thanks to weightitup.com.au and a bit of consistency and positive thinking I have managed to lose 2kg! Its been an “everything in moderation” kind of week which has been great. Tonight I even ate cake 🙂

I haven’t really exercised this week but I have been going out more often which definitely has helped. I don’t want to jump in head first because in a lot of ways I feel a little unprepared. I have been overweight for 3 years now and it will be a big change losing it. In many ways I feel unprepared for such a change so I am trying to slowly get into the right frame of mind. To anyone else it might seem silly – come on stop waiting around and do it! Jump in the deep end! But I have done that before, lost a great amount of weight then put it all back on because I was not ready.

Losing weight, for me anyway, is not just a matter of losing fat. There is a reason it has piled on and it is not because I simply cannot stop stuffing my face. I know what is healthy, I know how to cook, I know which exercises are ideal for me, I know its a long process and I am very realistic about health. But this fat… It has been a shield for me, a comfort, a good friend. It is hard to let that go.

With time I know I can overcome this. But this time I am doing something I have never done before and am taking baby steps. This way I can manage the emotions that arise as I lose weight.

I will add an article which explain the link between emotions and over-eating. Perhaps someone may see a bit of themselves in it and understand why they have had trouble losing weight like I have. I will also add a couple of articles about overcoming this obstacle which may help the both of us 🙂

Happy reading x

http://www.divinecaroline.com/self/wellness/how-your-past-can-lead-obesity

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/shrink/201206/five-strategies-overcoming-emotional-eating

http://www.today.com/id/22127030/ns/today-today_health/t/strategies-overcome-emotional-eating/#.UayduIN-9Ms

 

The ways we speak to our children

I have been thinking a lot lately about the ways we all talk to our children. I am not about to go on and on about how I’ve always been the perfect parent who never spoke to my child in anything but the most wonderful, supportive and well balanced way! Quite the contrary! I have had moments where my wheels have fallen off (like any parent) and wound up shouting and shutting myself down to his needs. I don’t think any mother is immune to this especially in the early years when the mother is just as new to the world as the child. If it were not a challenge then motherhood would not allow us to grow. I happened to have post natal depression, which isn’t fun on its own, but complied with a husband going away for work constantly and no family of friends for support it was that much harder. A few times throughout the years I had taken these frustrations out on my child by not being there to support him when he was having a difficult time. I had zero patience. Now I didnt smacked him or put him in his room and close the door during these moments but I did neglect his emotional needs at times. The way I neglected these needs was by not being there to educated him on how to manage his emotions. When he was sad I was sad, when he was angry I was angry. I went along with every one of his emotions. Even when he cried, I would cry. I know some people may think that this the mark of a compassionate mother but I did not see it that way. I saw it as giving in and giving up. I felt I was teaching him that when you are sad, you give in completely to that feeling and that there was nothing you could do or say to make it better. How horrible!

I was not alone in this. I see it all the time. The little boy in the playground who fell over and whose mother immediately picks him up and slinks him over her shoulder saying “oh my goodness, are you okay? Oh my poor boy!”… even the mother giving another mother the glares in the play centre because the other woman’s son hit her daughter. Yes it is okay to feel sad when your little ones taken a fall, feel angry when your child has asked for the millionth time for that chocolate bar or some other woman’s “brat” has hit your precious baby. But where do these emotions get us? Lets be honest here – there are better ways to handle it!

I am a big believer in letting kids sort things out with assistance. If a child hits your child is it useful for a mother or father to rise to the occasion with guns blazing? Is it good to shout at a mother who is most likely just as appalled with their child actions as you are? What if we got these children together and let them sort it out themselves? I have been In this position. My son pushed another child over in the playground. The boys mother immediately ran over and picked up her son, began to cry and shouted at me for a good 5 minutes while I tried to apologise and explain before I felt it absolutely necessary for me to leave – this was going nowhere. It was nothing more than a push and both of our children fell onto their little nappy-bums. No one was hurt and what began as a child’s tears of shock became a mothers tears of indignation – how dare he push my child?! Well, the lesson was lost the moment she rose to the occasion. What a pity that was. And please don’t think that this has not happened to my child also! He has had a good amount of tumbles and falls because of other children! Both me and the other mothers have always sorted it out, the children say sorry and usually end up playing together. What a great way to learn not to hurt one another and to learn that a disagreement doesn’t mean the end of a friendship! After all if we all fell apart every time we had a disagreement with each other none of us would have any friends!

So nowadays when my son is angry I tell him things like “You’re angry, that’s okay. But being angry isn’t going to change anything. What can we do to make it better?” and if he is sad I say “you’re sad, that’s okay. But what can we do to make you feel better?” and if he feels lonely we discuss all the good moments we have had with family and friends. Funnily enough he feels better and he is learning what to do next time he feels these emotions. Lets face it I am not going to be here forever but my voice and my lessons are going to be forever imprinted in his mind. My words and actions will one day become his own “inner voice” and I want that voice to be a positive and powerful 🙂

Have you ever been in a similar situation? How do you speak with your children? Share your thoughts here 🙂

Overcoming Sugar addiction

Overcoming Sugar addiction

Hi again. Now I know that Gwyneth Paltrow has received quite a bit of flak recently about her website goop and its content. She has been described as “rich girl”, “out of touch” and “materialistic” but I must admit that I quite like her! Yes I cannot afford to equip myself with a $500 000 wardrobe of “essential” clothing nor can I afford the $300 a day shopping list she suggests for maximum health but I find her articles very informed and “human”. They discuss the kinds of things that we ALL grow through whether we have a 500 000 dollar wardrobe or not.

Overcoming sugar addiction isn’t the deepest of her articles but its something that a lot of us struggle with. Oh the sugar binges I have had and the diabetes induced headaches and withdrawals that have followed! Every chocolate bar I declare is my last but every time that 3pm headache draws me right back into its evil clutches.

But I believe that a little sugar is better than a lot of sweeteners. So I would never ban sugar from my diet completely. Moderation is the best way to go when it comes to diet simply because a strict diet would be very hard to stick to for the rest of your life, it promotes an unhealthy relationship with food (the guilt mainly!) and it isn’t realistic in this day and age to expect ourselves or our kids to have the will power of a god in todays media driven world where an advertisement for take-away and chocolates are on the TV every night and on every billboard.

But if you are like me and are stuck in a sugar rut then I suggest reading the link above. It has some excellent information on sugar, studies (more addictive to rats than cocaine!) and ways to overcome an addiction.

http://goop.com/journal/do/103/overcoming-sugar-addiction

The power of play

Blog - Leon and Leaves

We all do it, kids to it, adults do it… even Animals do it! We play. Play isn’t just something you do when you are bored, in fact, we are playing even when we don’t realize it! Even writing this blog counts as play! 

But these days play has taken a turn and todays children have gone from playing out on the street to sitting inside on their tablets and phones. These can be great but we our children are now missing out on some very important parts of play like stress relief from running around, using their imaginations because the games they are playing are already made up for them, and they are in a more controlled play environment than they have ever been before.

I love a line in the link I have attached (just listen to the recording from Radio Netherlands under the picture on their website) which says that children are not being permitted to be the animals they are. We live in a different time where playing out on the street, at least for the majority of us, is no longer an option. The lives of children these days is much different and it is necessary in many situations. However, there are things we can do to ensure that our children are getting all the play they need to develop as they should and always have. Because the world is not slowing down and technology is replacing many of the things we took our time to do and valued, like play.

Take a listen and Id love to hear your thoughts on how todays children are being raised and how you are raising, or have raised, your own.

Happy reading x (see link below)

http://www.rnw.nl/english/radioshow/play

Are you Magnesium deficient?

60% of Americans are magnesium deficient. I’m not sure what the percentage is for Australians (or any other country) but I’ve met so many people who are in the same state I was in while I was Magnesium deficient and don’t even know about this deficiency or how to go about fixing it. Please watch if you think you are, or just to educate yourself on this wonder vitamin! Enjoy x