Category Archives: Random

A Little MJ Inspiration

But The Heart Said No

They saw the poor living in cardboard shacks, so they knocked the shacks down and built projects. Huge blocks of cement and glass towered over asphalt parking lots. Somehow it wasn’t much like home, even home in a shack. “What do you expect?” they asked impatiently. “You’re too poor to live like us. Until you can do better for yourselves, you should be grateful, shouldn’t you?”

The head said yes, but the heart said no.

They needed more electricity in the city, so they found a mountain stream to dam. As the waters rose, dead rabbits and deer floated by; baby birds too young to fly drowned in the nest while mother birds cried helplessly. “It’s not a pretty sight,” they said, “but now a million people can run their air conditioners all summer. That’s more important than one mountain stream, isn’t it?”

The head said yes, but the heart said no.

They saw oppression and terrorism in a far-off land, so they made war against it. Bombs reduced the country to rubble. Its population cowered in fear, and every day more villagers were buried in rough wooden coffins. “You have to be prepared to make sacrifices,” they said. “If some innocent bystanders get hurt, isn’t that just the price one must pay for peace?”

The head said yes, but the heart said no.

The years rolled by and they got old. Sitting in their comfortable houses, they took stock. “We’ve had a good life,” they said, “and we did the right thing.” Their children looked down and asked why poverty, pollution, and war were still unsolved. “You’ll find out soon enough,” they replied. “Human beings are weak and selfish. Despite our best efforts, these problems will never really end.”

The head said yes, but the children looked into their hearts and whispered, “No!”

by Michael Jackson, from Dancing The Dream


What is more noble.

She came in again yesterday. Once she would have marched into the store, this time she limped painfully and slowly. The hair that she used to so often fuss about is gone, replaced with a small akubra adorned with a floral scarf.

I often find myself sighing when I see my chatty and fussy regular customers heading in, as I cast a glance at the pile of paperwork and orders waiting to be dealt with. I am polite, friendly even, and always helpful; I like to do my job well. But I am normally so eager to return to my errands so that I can gain the satisfaction of simply checking them off my to-do list; so I don’t normally prolong any irrelevant conversations.

But here she was again, dramatically altered by cancer in just a few weeks, and suddenly the paperwork wasn’t so urgent and her complaints not at all irritating. It wasn’t pity that I felt; it was appreciation, for this person, just as she is, and for the fragility of life.

Why is it that we need an acute awareness of our own mortality to wake us up to what is really important? Why do I so quickly forget the same lesson over and over?

This year, I have known three young people pass away tragically. In each case, it wasn’t their achievements I thought of when I remembered their lives, how academically qualified they were or how big their houses were or how efficiently they did their paperwork; instead, all I thought of was how they influenced others lives.

I have always carried a sense of urgency about life with me; however, for me that urgency has translated into ambition and drive. So I now drag behind me a trail of top university marks (2 subjects ahead too!) and checked off to-do lists and savings in the bank and a sense of failure at not being more successful in life (you know, successful as in I should be writing my fourth book while running a multi-billion dollar corporation that I founded that uses its powers to help bring transformation to injustices within the world while leading an active social life, pursuing my interests in music and circus arts by gigging and fire twirling each weekend and then clown doctoring at the children’s hospital at least twice a week followed by. totally realistic).

But given my current energy restrictions (that a part of me still stubbornly refuses to acknowledge), this single-minded drive has also cost me many friendships, evenings spent laughing rather than staring at a computer screen for hours. It’s led to my poor family having to deal with me tired, cranky and antisocial on a regular basis, and it has worsened my health.

Fair trade off? I think not.

Nothing wrong with working hard…I so appreciate the opportunities we have here. But maybe it’s time to finally take the advice that everyone keeps offering, and cut back on work/study (whoa! scary.) and try to enjoy the journey a little more…so that hopefully I can help others enjoy theirs, too, rather than spending the whole time thinking of my stupid to do list until I arrive at the end of my journey with all my paperwork properly filed and my bucketlist unexperienced and no friends in sight.

So forgive me if I take Billy Joel’s advice some time soon and:
“Slow down, you crazy child.
Take the phone off the hook and disappear for a while.
It’s all right you can afford to lose a day or two…”

And to the friends that I have neglected due to my overly zealous commitment to study and work, forgive me. Lets have coffee.

“It is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual than to labor diligently for the salvation of the masses.” – Dag Hammarskjold

Need inspiration?
Read about how Henri Nouwen left his job at Harvard to care for Adam, a severely disabled man
Or Mindfulness – the art of conscious living.
Or how a stranger gave me flowers in Guate just when I needed them
Or ask me about the most incredible, resilient girls I once lived with in Guatemala…


Quarter of a Century

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”- C.S Lewis

Today. 25 years ago. I made my early arrival into this planet, popping out so cold that the nurse had to wrap me in foil to try to warm me up. 25 years later, I am told that my brain is now fully developed (so this is as good at its gonna get, friends!) and, I am still just as cold. I have now however moved on from foil to more sophisticated methods of keeping warm such as clothes, electric blankets, heat packs and piping hot tea.

25. Big number. Half way to fifty. 5 years off 30. Wowzer. But the amazing thing about this birthday, is that I am not actually freaking out. Good friends will testify that for years (since around my 13th birthday) I have played the role of a buzzkill on many of my birthdays as I have freaked out about gaining another year, terrified that my life was flying by far too quickly and I was failing to achieve everything I wanted and failing to squeeze the maximum life out of each moment that I was possible. (Proof in point: see my post from my 23rd birthday.)

But for some reason, this year…the big 2 – 5 …I’m ok with it. More than ok, I feel excited. Am I where I thought I’d be? No. But am I content with where I am? Yes.

I am…

…getting grounded again in who I am and want to be after losing my footing for a couple of years, caught up in a world of questions and also trying to please far too many people.

…rearranging my priorities. Realising that being a study/workaholic really doesn’t do you any favours. time to invest far more in relationships and smelling the roses.

…seeing progress (slow, but progress!) in my health, definitely an improvement from last year’s birthday.

…realising anew after my Timor-Leste trip how amazingly blessed, secure and fulfilling my life is. So genuinely GRATEFUL.

So. 25. Hello. Wrinkles and all, let’s be good friends.

To all my wonderful family and friends…THANKYOU. so, so glad you’re in my life.

Whoa, so am not as original as I thought.

So I just discovered I am not the only one living a life without icecream. This blogger is certainly a ilttle more focussed and proactive about finding non-dairy food alternatives. unlike my rambling blog. so want some dairy free recipes?? check it out.

and for your entertainment:

if this was tumblr. it would say photo reblogged this from planetuni. but it’s not. so instead, thanks planetuni for the inspiration.

Life update.

Hellooo peeps! Since I write such abstract and often mushy posts, here is what has actually been happening in my life.

In the last week or so I have:

– Experienced life as a child slave by making matchboxes on the floor for an evening. Slavemasters yelling, stomping, punishing, in between trying not to laugh it was actually a profoundly moving experience.
– Caught up with some long lost friends. Yay!
– Pulled out my rather unco african dancing moves at the unshackled concert (Rod and Zii where were you when I needed you!!)
– Played pin the tail on the donkey. And lost.
– Attended my last classes for the semester. Yay!
– Worked. and worked.
– Submitted assignments. Got better than expected grades on said assignments. (Hellooo HD’s!) Yay!
– Drank several litres of tea while doing said assignments.
– Watched a whole lot of movies/docos about Timor-Leste. Quickly falling in love with this country.
– Won movie tickets, a DVD and a $50 sports bra (what the?? the competition was for a holiday…) . Competition winning streak. Yea. Now just waiting to win my emirates return business class flights to london.
– Wrestled all over again with the fact that I am not currently doing the work I desperately want to be doing and telling myself to deal with it and be patient.
– Helped mum through another dramatic collapse. Brave soul she is.

Near Future:
– 1 exam,
– 1 presentation,
– 5,500 words to write (Then semester one = done. Degree = halfway done. Yay.)
– A car to get serviced
– Hair to get styled
– Many more poor neglected friends to attempt to catch up with
– Timor plans to make, readings to read, assignments to do (yes semester 2 assignments already! aargh)
– Semester 2 subjects to plan. Sooo excited about starting french. Stuck on deciding on my last elective. Field trip to Arnhem Land? Studying Asian economics?? African studies?? hmm decisions.
– Work, work work.
– a 25th bday party to plan.

There you go! updated. not so exciting ey. give me time. got big plans for my life. just taking me awhile to get there.

When solitude is too much.

The view from outside my room.

It had been another full, busy, new, exciting week early into my stay at the girls home in Guatemala. 5am starts, herding the 12 little girls off to the school bus, cooking (and burning) meals for 18 people each day, staff meetings that went for a million hours, herding the girls back from the school bus to the house, showers and homework and washing clothes and washing dishes and moderating turns on the one working bike and then crashing into bed at 10:30pm each night.

And it was on one of these evenings, when I had cooked and prepared supper, uniforms were laid out ready for the next day, when suddenly the house parents disappeared upstairs with their kids to their own private room for awhile and the girls ran off to their bedrooms to plan acts for the evening’s talent show.

Suddenly, I found myself standing alone in a pitch dark dining room.

I made my way outside and settled down on the top step outside my bedroom door. The metal door was cool upon my back, the breeze fresh on my face. Concrete wall to my left, barbed wire to my right; stars above, palm trees standing dark upon the horizon.

The universe spread out before me, tiny me, fenced in with barbed wire.

While embracing the chance to stop and catch a breath and ponder, as my hectic world suddenly ground to a halt I found myself alone.

So alone.

Solitude, and, isolation. Intense isolation. There were no tears. Just an intense realisation of the sensation of feeling entirely isolated. A sense of almost being trapped in a world completely by myself, disconnected from everyone.

I was alone. I needed to talk to someone. Laugh with them. Tell them what I feeling. Hug someone. Connect. It was so deep; the intensity shocked me.

Blame the long working hours, the fact that I was living at work, the weariness, the newness of my friendships, my poor spanish, the cultural differences and my lack of internet access or any sort of connection with the world outside of Chimaltenango; it certainly wasn’t that I didn’t like the work I was doing or that those I worked with weren’t amazingly welcoming and accepting.

It was just that circumstances had conspired against me to place me temporarily in a place of solitude.

In that moment, I realised…relationships – all types – really are the most important thing in life.

And yet also in that moment, I realised that on another level, each of us, to a certain degree, has to walk our paths through life alone.

And I also found that in the pain and intensity and emptiness of that moment, I was still so aware of the presence of something so much bigger than myself.

So I got up, tucked my iPod away, told myself it wouldn’t be like this forever, and went down to watch the talent show.

Semuc Champey

Isn’t it wonderful when you stumble across something that triggers a sweet memory…(especially wonderful when it enables you to procrastinate from writing that assignment for just a few more minutes!)…well this morning, Semuc Champey found it’s way through a newsletter into my inbox. Care to wander down memory lane with me for a minute?

Semuc Champey. 14 beautiful natural pools where somehow the wild rushing river has decided to take a break and run underground, leaving above these natural limestone pieces of heaven providing a true gem hidden in the tropical mountains of Guatemala.

Semuc Champey. August 2009. The day beforehand was a crazy day where tour buses hadn’t arrived where and when they were supposed to, and then broke down several times along the journey, oh and also left me stranded in a town in a middle of a protest…so I took my life into my hands and hitchhiked. (yes. I know. never again. it was exceptional circumstances.)

But on this day…things ran smoothly. Rudy, our guide, was absolutely beautiful….just one of those people who radiates happiness and kindness, I’ve never forgotten him. Maybe that’s cos he was constantly complimenting my shocking spanish. Hm. Anyway.

The bus rocked up on time. We piled in. We drove and drove and drove but at last after several hours we arrived.

Arrived at this beautiful little hut secluded in the jungle, where we made ourselves comfortable while our guides prepared our vehicle for the next part of the journey….we would need to 4WD this part!

Aah…but how will 12 people fit in a 5 seater 4WD? That’s ok…stick the Brits and the Aussie in the boot…and the guide on spare tyre out the back! Yes, there was much laughter.

But our cramped journey didn’t last long. The 4WD decided it didn’t like carrying 11 people and died about 500m up the road. Rather than stand around and wait while they tinkered and toyed with it, we decided to get a head start on foot. And wow…totally worth it. Fields of maize blended in with the jungle as we hiked up and down these beautiful hills; for some reason, we decided that the Sound of Music would provide a perfect soundtrack for our journey so…sing it we did (not sure the spaniards with us appreciated this as much!).

We came around another bend and down a steep hill and there was the beautiful, spectacular river. We’d finally arrived at the entrance of the park. We took a break at another hut, snacking on those bags of rich fresh fruit that Guatemalan vendors make so wonderfully (yes I know, massive parasite risk! but they are so good..), being stared at by a creepy one eyed dog.

Time to hike some more! Rudy complimented me on my spanish again. Yay. We swapped words…”how do you say celoso in English?” and “Como se dice steep en espaƱol?” as we made our way into the jungle.

Semuc Champey. There it was. Beautiful, bright turquoise, deep in the forest; aside from the path and one change room, relatively unmarked by humankind. We took our turns getting changed in the pitch black change room (drop toilet anyone? never mind we’ll just hold it.) and then marched out onto the limestone ledges, ready to plunge into the pools below. Rudy made me jump first. Must be because my spanish was so good. Ha.

So we jumped. And we swam to the edge, then jumped down to the next one. And swam again. And I remember floating there, looking up at the forest canopy above and around at the turquoise water around me and just feeling overwhelmed with the serenity and immense beauty of this place. It felt so safe.

Safe, that is, until Rudy told us it was time to climb down a waterfall. He took a room and looped it around a rock, then threw it over the fall. You just climb down, then back up, he said. I had a good look, for about a second, before politely declining. I didn’t feel like dying that day (maybe when I actually have upper body strength I will go back and climb the water fall).

And that was Semuc Champey. More hiking (Rudy offered to carry me when I got tired. But pretty sure I was taller than him so kept at it), a tropical downfall that left us drenched (just after we dried off from the swimming), some mystical caves (thousands of bats. no kidding. pretty amazing), and a long drive later, we were safely and exhaustedly settled back into our hammocks in Coban.

If you’re in Guatemala, definitely worth the trip to Semuc Champey. And be sure to ask for Rudy and compliment his english.