Monday, May 20, 2013

What Is Love? A Story Of Married Angst

What is Love? Let me tell you a story about two friends of mine. They are married, with three children under ten. The have the usual financial pressures many young families face as they grow both their families and their businesses. Sometimes there is alot of work around, other times cash is harder to come by but time is more plentiful. They know how to laugh. They are both firmly committed to raising happy, amazing children. It's a juggling act. Sometimes they get very tired and bored of the routine, even each other. They try to make time to be a couple, not just parents, but it doesn't always work out that way. Their work committments see them travelling separately, away from home at times for a week, two weeks, at a stretch. Of course, there are temptations. They choose to trust each other, even though sorely tested occasionally.

The other night I called to say hi and had a great long chat with the husband. She was out and he felt he could speak freely. I am a very long-standing friend - safe to confide in. He obviously needed  a willing ear. He was having doubts. He didn't think she found him attractive anymore, they weren't being intimate as often as he would like, he was tired of the constant demands of the children, he didn't feel free. He wanted to cut loose and party and drink and stay out late and not call home and wear the same shirt for a week and eat ice cream three times a day and play computer games till dawn and go on a cruise and meet hot younger women. Okay. Thanks for trusting me with that...

"Do you love her?" I asked.
"Yes. Yes, I do," he said. "But I am not IN love with her, anymore, you know?"

Yes, I hear you. Those glorious, hormonal highs of being "in love", the rush, the heart pounding, the desperate need to just be where they are, touching their arm, knee, back, anything, whenever you walk past each other. The excitement of waiting for them to come home, to spend the day together, to have another adventure side by side.

"What does that mean to you?" I asked.

He couldn't really say. "I just don't feel connected, anymore. She's too busy. She's not interested in me. She's way more interested in her work than she is in me. She takes me for granted. She never even cooks dinner for us. I'm the Mr Mom. I'm sick of it".

"But you love her..."

Hollywood has done us a massive disservice. Life is not like the stories we see on the big screen. Not every day is a music video clip or a rom-com with a happy ending and a poignant moral lesson. Our expectations of life - ourselves and our partners - are coloured by mythology. When the everyday wears us down we rail against the machine, which can sometimes feel like our spouse (except we forget that they are probably feeling trapped, and are not the captor but the captured also).

When we are in the grind we can look at our lives and measure ourselves harshly against the dream, the story we have in our heads of how things should be. As we get older, we berate ourselves for falling short or not being "there" yet or having made bad choices or... just get scared that this is all there is. Under pressure, we feel a need to squirm free, jump sideways, or just plain run... away.

But what if love is not a feeling, not chemicals running through our brain, not Hollywood movies, starlit nights and clandestine meetings and sexy knickers.

What if being "in love" is getting up everyday at the same time, making a cup of tea, driving the kids to school and, after a long day, collapsing into bed beside your equally exhausted partner and falling instantly to sleep, day after day, after day. In it. Totally consumed by the life you have created with your partner. Right in the thick of it.

Or what if love is a verb, a "doing" word... and the act of simply sticking it out IS the love story? It may lack some of the highs (and lows) of the Hollywood drama but it's way more substantial than 100 minutes of celluloid. It's painfully real, at times. And beautifully real at others.

"So what are you going to do?" I said.
"I dunno," he said. "Hey, I'd better go. It's my turn to cook tonight. Thanks for the chat."
"No problem. Anytime."

I'm not sure what his choice will be... but I have my suspicions.

Disempowering Your Shadow Self
Anger Gets A Bad Wrap
Books About The Pursuit Of Happiness

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Disempowering Your Shadow Self

We like to think we are awake and in control of our lives, right? That we are sitting in the driver's seat of the car called Life and driving it where ever it is we want to go, masters of our destiny, creators of our fates (within reason). But what if it is not "Me" who is doing the driving? What if we are being driven by something that is not "Us"?

In childhood and adolescence we have experiences that shape us, and then other things happen to us as time passes, too. Situations, people, random events can effect our inner worlds, how we feel about ourselves, perceptions we have of "how things are". Without even knowing we are doing it, we make decisions, and develop ways to protect ourselves from emotions that hurt, situations we perceive as threatening, and start to react to present situations based on past experiences. Patterns start to emerge, the results in our life start to reflect our ways of being, our responses, and then maybe we step back and take a look at our lives one day to realise how we are behaving and who we have in our lives does not actually reflect our core view of who we think we are...

Confronting! So who are we being then?

One school of thought proposes that sub-personalities, aspects of ourselves, can dominate us. Reflections of the mind and primal responses, they are not doing the bidding of the heart, which is possibly why, upon reflection, or in response to a critical situation where we might suddenly see our way of being more accurately, we can be so surprised to find that how other people see us is so different to how we wish to see ourselves, or feel about ourselves.

Another school of thought calls these aspects "the Shadow", or "shadow selves", and the viewpoint here is that until the light of consciousness is shone upon the Shadow, the Shadow rules us, and we remain unaware of our patterns or "default settings".

Is it a horrifying idea for you that some other self, not your true self, might be running your life? Some shadow or aspect you have never even seen? Seeing your shadow is no less confronting - and can create huge questions and feelings of helplessness - "Now what?".

Well, the only thing you can really do is keep looking - look closer, become more aware of when head starts to dominate heart, and at each moment - even in the middle of a huge row with someone - choose to follow heart not head, not ego, not that often-flawed instinct for self-preservation that makes us say or do things we regret later.

The idea of mindfulness is not new. Modern philosopher Ekhart Tolle has written books about it, including The Power of Now; spiritual teacher Sally Kempton offers suggestions for how to achieve a more heart-connected state, and avid meditators suggest their practice as another method for facing and subduing the Shadow self. 

You see, you can't really make it go away. It's part of you, but it doesn't have to be the dominant part of you, and it doesn't have to lead you into places that do not serve your highest good: away from connection and intimacy and positive expression, and towards drama and conflict and isolation. It is possible to become more mindful of when we are being reactive and living old patterns and stop, and listen instead to the often quietly spoken voice that comes from our hearts.

The Peace Pledge
Are you more generous when you are hungry? 
Any Kindness I Can Do

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Peaceful Thought For Today: Quote Saint Terese of Liseaux

A peaceful thought for today:

“May today there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are.

Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.”

- Saint Terese of Liseaux

Beautiful, Perfect, Broken
The Peace Pledge 
Hafiz - Sufi Poem: What About That Moon? 


Animals Can Teach Us About Peace

Humans are great at creating drama and upset for both themselves and others. This is not true of everyone, of course, and many people do not realise they are addicted to drama, perhaps as they are addicted to TV or soft drink or potato chips. I have been following a lovely Facebook group about animals called "Help For Animals" and each day I get an interesting picture and story (or two!) about animals living their lives and sometimes how they have helped humans or humans have helped them. It is very inspiring; heart-warming.

What that page does highlight for me is that animals have emotions and experience states of comfort (peace) and distress and that we:
1) can learn from their abilities to live a simple, peaceful life and their desire for harmony, ease, community;
2) have a responsibility to care for these creatures who are less powerful in our world, voice less, and so often at the mercy of our humanity and compassion.

They too have children, partners, friends, things they enjoy doing. They feel heart-ache when a partner or child dies, experience discomfort when it is cold, wet or too hot, get stressed out when a fellow animal (or human) is in danger or they are whisked away by a flood, value their freedom and autonomy, enjoy cuddles and affection from their kin or us.

Given the choice, animals seem to choose peace and comfort - take the image of a cat or dog curled up for a snooze in the sun. It seems odd to me that we, humans, so often choose drama and conflict over peace. Perhaps we are not as smart as we think and could benefit from a closer observation of the ways animals live their lives when they have choices, which, sadly they do not always have. Unlike us.

Pic credit: Help For Animals. Thank you. Original picture can be found here.

Contrast Leads to Clarity
A random selection of peace and feel-good quotes
The Peace Pledge 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Meeting Abigail Disney, Heiress and Peace Activist

I had the great privilege of meeting peace activist Abigail Disney at a fundraising event at the end of last year. Granddaughter of Roy O. Disney, co-founder of The Walt Disney Company with his brother Walt Disney, Abigail is heiress to an immense fortune and, after much soul-searching and loneliness as a young woman growing up, she has now committed to "supporting female voices and international peace-building through non-violent means".

Abigail is a passionate documentary maker and is busy telling some of the beautiful, heart-warming stories of successful peace-making that have been occurring around the world that mainstream media ignore. She told us how shocked she was when she left the USA and travelled to other places to discover how much good stuff was going on out there in the world that never filtered back into the States - and set about changing that.

In the course of the evening we watched an excerpt from her doco Pray The Devil Back To Hell, the inspiring story of thousands ordinary Liberian women of all ages, both Muslim and Christian, who, during the Liberian War, staged a sit-in outside the Presidential Palace (for years) and, though confronted by guns and tanks, insisted on peace - and got it.

She - and her film-making partners - also takes on other controversial issues that are not palatable to mainstream American television such as the impact of the Internet on children's perceptions of their sexuality.

Being in the presence of so many strong women that night at the Sydney Women's Fund / Australian Women Donors Network event, and meeting Abigail, was very inspiring for me. We even had a video address from Australian Prime Minister Hon. Julia Gillard.

Coming together to share stories and hear about the work other people are doing in the area of peace and for the service of humanity is very motivating. It's not everyone's cup of tea - we all have a different mission and journey here on planet Earth - but for me, it was quite a thrilling night. I've posted a picture of me and Abigail below.

Whatever your calling, and however you are getting along with it, I hope you will stay true, follow your heart, and do the very best you can to express yourself - there is only one YOU and the world needs what you have to offer. Be courageous.

Peace and blessings.

The Peace Pledge project 
See the World Peace Flame 
A Few Kind Words

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Peace and Feel-good Quotes

My inner journey and my work on The Peace Pledge are taking a lot of my energy and spare time. There is a nagging sense of guilt in me for not posting here more frequently. I sometimes find that when incubating an idea or going through an intense period of life experience / growth that I am not grounded enough to catch my thoughts on paper and reflect them back. Perhaps when we push through the other side of various experiences we are in a better position to see them more clearly.

So, for now, I just want to reach out and share a random selection of peace quotes that may be beneficial for you.

I hope your journey is an interesting and happy one.

With love

Random selection of peace and feel-good quotes

“There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle” - Robert Alden

"If half a century of living has taught me anything at all, it has taught me that nothing can bring you peace but yourself." - Dale Carnegie

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” - Eleanor Roosevelt, This is My Story

"Inner peace is not something that happens to you as some external or future event. Inner peace exists within you right now and it will be gradually uncovered as you decide to flow and accept the events and changes that life brings. In the degree that you embrace those changes, will you have inner peace." - Gabriela Pinto

“Be a rainbow in someone else's cloud.” - Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter


Maya Angelou - Touched By An Angel
The Peace Pledge on Facebook
Champions for peace

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Peace Pledge

Thought you might like to take a look at another peace project I have been working on - it's the reason why my posts to this blog have been so erratic of late! I have recently created a website to promote inner peacefulness called The Peace Pledge. If the link doesn't work you can find it here:

There is also a Facebook page: and within six days of launching it had 2500 page likes! It is now tracking close to 21,000 "likes". Pretty cool, huh?

Kind of exciting to discover there are so many people in the world striving to be peaceful and live peacefully.

World peace flame
Creating a more peaceful world
Champions for peace