You will learn lessons.

The next rule in The Rules for being Human

Rule No.2 You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full time informal school called life. Each day, you will be presented with opportunities to learn what you need to know. The lessons presented are often completely different from those you “think” you need.

Oh My Goodness! How true is this? Life is surely our greatest teacher. Some call it the School of Life or the University of Hard Knocks. Speaking from personal experience and my observations of my fellow humans and life, I am going to say that we all have a plan for how we think our lives should pan out but that plan gets severely hijacked and we have to deal with situations which we had thought, even in our wildest dreams, would never be on our plate. Those lessons are for our understanding and enlightenment and I am 100% convinced that we get the lessons we need and are saved from the lessons we think we need for our own good.

I have always loved the Chinese proverb that says that if a group of people stood around in a circle and each person told their story and described the struggles of their lives and then bundled them up and put them in the centre of the circle, by the time you had listened to the struggles of everyone else, you would be more than happy to take back your own bundle. This is because our struggles are our lessons and just as I cannot learn your lesson for you, neither can you learn my lesson. Our lessons are our blessing and God knows we all need to grow in different areas. Life provides the classroom.

Today may you be alert to your opportunities to learn and grow in this way leads onto way life.

You will receive a Body.

You may remember that recently I had a good clean out of my teaching resources. Well along the way I came across my Rules for being Human handout. I cannot give you a reference for the writer of these rules. I understand they come from ancient Sanskrit wisdom. They were part of my resources when teaching an ethics class at a Catholic secondary school for girls. But they are brilliant and for many years were a laminated poster on the wall of all my classrooms. There are 10 of them and for my next 10 posts I will share one with you.

The introduction states, The rules for being human are those insightful and practical propositions that we as human beings, are willing to embrace to give our life more meaning and goodness towards each other. So if you think that sounds like something you are interested in; read on.

Rule No.1 You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for as long as you live. How you take care of it or fail to take care of it can make an enormous difference in the quality of your life.

So yes, we all have a body, it is the physical house for our bigger self, our spirit self and as such is important and needs to be cared for and nurtured. When we are young we can do all sorts of things that might stress and / or abuse our bodies and when we are young mostly our body will bounce back quickly. It is the most wonderful thing to be young. But the body has a memory and my observation is that it repays us for the care or neglect of the present time about 15 years down the track.

Love your body. It is the only one you will get and yes it will be imperfect; all of life is imperfect, but it is still beautiful. Do learn to take care of it and make the most of your spectacular self.

Grandma Hat

For the past few weeks I have been wearing my grandma hat and visiting my grown children and my grand children. I have been visiting homes knit together in love and environments that would nurture curiousity and growing minds. These homes are serving their purpose beautifully, full of interest and energy. They are busy, lived in and loving.

There’s prams and trikes, bikes and scooters, books and blocks, toys and trampolines, paints and puzzles, glue and glitter, board games and computer games and conversation. And a never ending cycle of cleaning, washing, cooking..

I have been to gymbaroo, the magic yellow bus, the park, train rides, playgroup at the Gallery of Modern Art, swimming lessons and soccer. I have waved others off to netball, gymnastics and music lessons. I have read in the classroom, gone to book week parade and escorted one to the disco door.

I have also been reading Proverbs; which in my opinion should be compulsory reading just for the wisdom, but anyhow Proverbs 14:4 Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest. Sort of reminds me of the homes I have been visiting and have been thinking; With out children the house would stay clean, but you need children growing strong in heart, mind, body and soul for the large harvest of life which is ahead of them. The world needs curious and creative minds and the stimulus for these minds means things can get a bit messy along the way. A small price to pay.

And the last one; Proverbs 17:6. Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged.

Now I don’t think I am at all aged but of all the things there is to love, wearing the grandma hat has got to be one of the best. I love my crowning glories.

A Round Tuit.

When I get a round Tuit, I’m going to paint the bathroom ceiling, and the walls too. Then I will keep going and even paint the loo.

When I get a round Tuit, I’m going to landscape the front garden, adding flowering plants and native shrubs, which will attract the birds to eat the pesky grubs.

When I get a round Tuit, I’m going to plant the summer vege plot. This needs to happen in the Spring, before it gets too hot.

When I get a round Tuit, I’m going to reorganise the back shed. Make room for potting up new plants and space to do my art.

All these great ideas, they jostle in my head. Yes, when I get a round Tuit, that’s when I will start.

Poetry by Estelle D. Aug 2019.

The 80 / 20 Rule.

I am sure you have heard of the 80/20 rule. It applies to many aspects of life.

In any organisation you will find that 20% of the people do 80% of the work while the remaining 80% do a bit of filling in around the edges. In organisations there has to be people who are invested otherwise the organisation simply would not work. Sometimes they are a little too invested and have an expectation that everything will be just so and please them because they have so much of themselves invested.

But I want to talk about investing the 80/20 rule in ourselves. On the inside door of my pantry cupboard, I have the 80/20 alkalizing to acidic food list. This list was given to me by my brother about 15 years ago when he was in the midst of the great battle for his life. It was a battle he fought long and hard, but ultimately, the disease, multiple myeloma, won.

The idea is that one should consume 80% alkalizing foods and 20% acidic foods to maintain a good body pH. Disease thrives in an acidic environment and most of us, because of lifestyle and diet are too acidic. The list begins with the most alkalizing and ends with the most acidic forming. And guess what, the things listed at the beginning and end are not even foods!

The list begins with love, peace, forgiveness, meditation / prayer; these are alkalizing and essential for health and wellbeing and finishes with anger, bitterness, stress and hate which are acidic and will cause physical and emotional illness.

I try to apply the 80/20 rule to my overall health and well being, because let’s face it, it is impossible, for me at least, to do the right thing all the time. So rather than burden myself with resolutions and rules I simply cannot keep, I bring things down to little choices which are made all the time. Rather than having a great long list of do nots, I aim for 80% of my choices to be in line with overall goals. It seems to work.

This rule can be applied to what one eats and drinks, exercise or lack thereof, where and how to spend time and money. I am a firm believer that the most important aspect of life is balance and the 80/20 rule keeps that balance on the good, positive and wholesome side.

Romeo, oh Romeo!

In the balcony scene of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Juliet wistfully says, “Romeo, oh Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” Juliet is not asking Romeo where he is; she knows Romeo has scaled the fence and he is in her courtyard, beneath her balcony. She also knows he is in a dangerous place.

Juliet is saying, Romeo, why do you have to be who you are? Why does the only fellow I fancy have to be a Montague? Couldn’t you please be someone else?

You see, generations ago the Capulets and the Montagues had a falling out. No one can remember what the fall out was about, all we know is that the families had become bitter enemies. Shakespeare is teaching us an important lesson about hatred because as we know both families paid a very high price for their unresolved hatred.

Secondary and Tertiary students the globe over still study Shakespeare and his stories have endured for over 450 years simply because Shakespeare deals with the passions of humanity and regardless of fashions or fads the core of humanity remains the same.

I’m reminded of another cannon of writings, full of wisdom, and written centuries before Shakespeare and what it has to say about making peace.

If you would love life and see good days … seek peace and persue it.

To seek for something is to look hard for it and to persue means to run after with the intent to capture. Can you imagine how the strife between families, brothers, neighbours and nations would diminish if we had this same attitude to peace.

Do you think it is important to seek peace and persue it? God does.

Peace be with you.

The Art of Observation.

Recently I have spent time in airports and train stations. I have been to lots of places where I am surrounded by fellow travellers in this way leads onto way life. But this has given opportunity to indulge in one of my favourite pastimes; observation.

The art of observation is a wonderful way to kill time. One can learn a lot through being a quiet observer. Learning how to read facial expressions and body language will reveal much about people and siuations. Snippets of overheard conversation provide a little insight and I am ever mindful that everyone has their story.

Mostly these are stories I will never hear but I must never forget that everyone has a story, a history, a circumstance and a dream for their future. Sometimes I pass time creating fictional stories for the characters about me.

While I might like to use my imagination and make up stories it is important to with hold any judgements.

Despite what the media might have us believe, the vast majority of people are simply decent, law-abiding, pleasant folk doing their best in the life circumstances they find themselves.

I am reminded of the lyrics of Joe South, before you abuse, criticise and accuse, walk a mile in my shoes. Or, at the very least smile and be kind because as an observer, I do not know the story.

Bring on the DOC.

I love carrots; a sweet juicy carrot tastes cocoanutty to me. I love carrots juiced, streamed, roasted, grated, whole, in sticks, in soups, but most of all in carrot cake. My father was a carrot farmer and I grew up with lots and lots of carrots. My father was also ahead of his time because in the late sixties he came to the conclusion that chemical fertilizers were destroying the microcosms in the soil, upsetting the delicate balance of pH and actually killing the earth which resulted in crops not only lacking in taste but lacking in nutrients also.

It wasn’t until after WW2 that chemical fertilizers became something used by farmers. Initially they were thought to be magic and chemicals for pest control and super growth became the must have for the modern farmer. No one at this stage was aware they were simply poisons or of the harm they would cause to the farmers who used them, the soil they were killing, the environment and even the consumers.

But my father had an inkling everything was not what it was cracked up to be. He noticed that although the pests were less, so too were the signs of good health in the soil.

It was time to bring in the DOC. Somehow my father got onto a small company, several hundreds of kilometres away from where we lived who processed and sold DOC. Dehydrated Organic Concentrate. This was basically dried out chicken poo which was mixed with other organic matter. It was a medicine for the soil.

He would buy it a tonne at a time. It would come by rail to the siding closest to the farm, it would be unloaded and trucked to the farm and stored in a shed built at the front of the property. Fortunately this was a distance away from the house because DOC smelt very organic!

We used it on the farm and also sold it and my father was very proud of his sweet tasting, organically grown carrots.

While I grew up on the farm, I really did very little farming. I was either at school or working in the nearest city until I left home in the 70s but something must have rubbed off. Not only do I love carrots, my happy place is in the garden, tilling the soil, turning the compost and playing farmer.

It is true; you can take the girl out of the farm but you can’t take the farm out of the girl.

When the Student is Ready.

I love the wisdom of the ages. Most probably because it is centuries old and time has proven its veracity. One such snippet of wisdom is the ancient Chinese proverb which states, When the student is ready, the Teacher arrives. This is so true and it does not matter how valuable, worthwhile or needed the lesson is, until we are open to receive it, we will block it from ourselves.

The greatest arena of learning and the best of teachers is Life itself. The Teacher, Life, is a bit like sound waves transmitted from radio signals, always out there but we need to be switched on and tuned in if we are to receive the message. Learning is three dimensional and when we are ready to move on to a higher level of enlightenment, a deeper level of understanding and a wider scope of vision, the Teacher with the particular lesson we are ready for, will arrive. The Teacher may arrive in a variety of forms and I would like to share some of the ways the Teacher has arrived in my life and hopefully you are able to relate to these.

The Teacher may arrive in the form of a person. Knowing this gives the people around us, whether they be family, friends, colleagues or even strangers a greater value. People are placed in our lives precisely because they have something to share with us, and we with them, from which we can all be enriched. I am sure you recognise instances in your life when the right person has arrived at the right time and this has lead to the next stage of your development.

The Teacher may arrive in the form of an experience. We all learn through experience. Some would say experience is the best teacher; that we learn from our mistakes. If we refuse to learn from our mistakes, we will find the same situations keep presenting themselves, until we get the message and put this lesson in place, only then can we move on. Keep in mind that Life’s lessons are meant to make us better, not bitter.

The Teacher may arrive in the form of pain. Pain is a fantastic teacher; it really tends to get our attention. I love the way Kahil Gilbran puts it in his book The Prophet. He writes, Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. Truly the baptism of pain forges an understanding which becomes part of our inner being. The general rule of thumb is the more painful the experience; the more valuable the lesson.

The Teacher may arrive in the form of a book. Have you ever started to read a book but were not able to get into it, so you put it back on the shelf only to pick it up at another time and simply devour it because it contained a message you were now ready to receive. Reading books is life changing and of course the is one Book, the best Book, divinely written, precisely for that purpose.

The teacher may arrive in the form of a conviction. A thought which seems to float in from nowhere but settles upon us and motivates us into action. We step out in faith, into the darkness, take that risk and the Teacher is waiting there in unknown.

Like all good Teachers, Life sets us a few tests. Just checking to see if we are switched on and tuned in. Have we been paying attention? Did we learn anything from our last disaster? The one big lesson Life wants to teach us is that nothing changes until we change ourselves; our attitudes; our behaviours and our expectations.

We are all students of Life, and the wise, regardless of age, wealth, or achievement are open and ready to receive and learn. Likewise we are all teachers, the wise Teacher does not impose on or impart to another their own wisdom, but rather with humility and through kindness and love share of themselves truthfully and in doing so will bring the student to their own threshold of understanding. On entering the student is then in possession of their own wisdom. Wisdom is the greatest treasure in life. In the words of Solomon, Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.

I am so thankful to all of my teachers and the opportunity to be a life long learner.

When the Student is ready, the Teacher arrives. Therefore, let the Student be ready!

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

No one is perfect. Not me, not you and not anyone else! We are all a mixture of the good, the bad and the ugly!

I am sure you know The Story of Two Wolves. Very briefly, a young boy is being taught by his grandfather, a Cherokee Chief, about the battle between good and bad that rages inside each one of us and he uses wolves to represent each side of the battle. When the child asks,”Which one will win?”

The grandfather replies, “The one you feed.”

You can Google this to get the full context. There is no doubt that what we feed our mind, body and soul shapes our character, health and spirit but in this blog I want to talk about the uglies.

Every day news bulletins beam into our homes examples of all sorts of ugly. There is a long list, and I am sure you recognise ugly when you see it. Often they are actions carried out whilst under the influence of mind altering substances. The uglies come in all shapes, sizes, ages, genders, professions, demographics, peoples and cultures.

Our ugly is the direct outworking of the absence of self control or self discipline. This brings me to the topic of discipline. To understand discipline firstly we need to understand its purpose and character. Sometimes things are best understood by knowing what it is not, so here goes;

Discipline is not abuse, it is not intended to humiliate or ridicule another, it is not to be administered out of anger, frustration, a need to demonstrate power or show who is the boss. It is not yelling, making threats, idle or otherwise, or trying to emotionally manipulate. Correct discipline is administered with love, it is firm and fair, it states clearly where the boundary is and that when violated there will be a consequence which will be carried through. There is only one purpose of discipline. Discipline is applied externally to another so that they can develop internal self discipline and thereby have a happy and productive life.

Self discipline has flow on effects. One who will discipline self will also respect self and one who respects self will respect others. You can see why discipline is so very important. It is very difficult for a person with no self discipline to discipline a child with love and for the purpose of teaching self discipline. This is why children are yelled at, abused, insulted, neglected and even beaten to the point where their fragile little bodies cannot survive. Unfortunately authorities confuse this horrific behaviour with the right of loving and self disciplined parents to apply a short, sharp smack to a well padded bottom very occasionally and when definitely needed. It will not be needed often. We need to feed and encourage the good, starve the bad and discipline the uglies.

In order to address the uglies, we need to understand discipline, its character and its purpose in our homes, schools and courts otherwise life will get very ugly.