Category Archives: Personal Writing

The Pursuit of Happiness

In the information age I am often confronted by a lack of information and awareness in the general public about certain issues – particularly when it comes to health. For most people our quest in life is similar, though our paths are different. The pursuit of happiness – is that not what we all want?

What we are as human beings is a question for philosophers across the ages in history. What is clear is that we have a physical body, we have a mind, and we feel. We may develop complex hypotheses and theories on the interplay of these three core aspects of being (I won’t say “human being” here as we share these to greater and lesser extents with other animals) and the question of soul, and we may agree or disagree. The mistake I think we make is when we conceptualise these as components of being rather than as one and complete.

The reason I make this point is that in the pursuit of happiness – the quest we are all embarking on – we must begin with that which nourishes us as one and complete. We have to start with our health. I can’t imagine any type of lifestyle – from the excessively wealthy partier to a remote Tibetan monk – that can be truly happy and truly fulfilled without good health.

Health is the ground work, the soil for everything. How can one think healthy thoughts without having the foundations and presence of the right molecules – hormones, neurotransmitters, and nutrients to sustain those healthy thoughts? How can you have the ability to feel happy and feel wealthy if you do not have the physical ability to manufacture the right molecules and enzymes needed to create and sustain those emotions?

Working yourself to exhaustion in a well-paying unsatisfying job will not bring you happiness. How can it? Money gets you stuff. That’s it. Sure, life is easier with it, and there are people in the world who do need more of it, but happiness is more than stuff.

So often too our quests for health are misguided. We think we’ll be happier or healthier with a slimmer, or tighter, or firmer body. But the outward appearance of our bodies isn’t health. Nor is conforming to societal standards or what is the “right” way to look or be. If the goal is your outward appearance, it won’t bring you happiness.

The question we need to ask ourselves more is: what will make me healthier? This is the knowledge we need to seek, this is the information we need to acquire on our paths to happiness.

 

Nahmaste.

 

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A Suburban Night

I’m up and it’s dark

And right outside

A streetlamp shines

And the Night confides

Tales of rest

Of dreams and wonder

Of snores and pillows

But me, I ponder

 

My sweet child

Awake in the dark

What’s upset you?

A dream, a whisper,

A lark?

 

Are you hungry?

Or are you sad?

Or did you ‘waken

Feeling bad?

 

I am here,

You’re in my arms

You call me to you

Not without charms;

 

You find my breast

My warm embrace.

The streetlamp shines

Off your lovely face.

 

At peace once more

For the comfort you seek

Is right here now

Right next to your cheek.

 

I’ll always be here

To give that to you

Always and again

‘slong as you need to.

 

You’ll want for naught

Surrounded with love

I am here for you

My small Little Dove.

Written at approximately 10 weeks old, just past midnight, in our old home in suburban Melbourne.

Nahmaste.

An Ethical Choice

Hot tears scorched my face as they rolled down my cheeks. I sat there, staring, mouth agape, as the credits rolled – some sort of distant reminder that the world was still spinning, still moving, that people were still doing their thing. I could not bring myself to wipe them away. I needed to feel them. I deserved them. To not would be to do some further great injustice.

My partner had left the room, busying himself in preparing a drink in the kitchen – his way of dealing with what we had both just witnessed. All the arguments I’d heard before, all the logical deductions and trains of thoughts I’d had throughout my life came swimming into my consciousness. They’d been so uncomfortably set aside in my mind. For so long there had been this discourse between what I’d logically surmised to be right and ethical and how I’d actually behaved and the attitudes I’d projected into the world.

And for what? To fit in? It all seemed so ridiculous now. Un-real. Inauthentic. Incongruous. To hold a truth yet to ignore it. To compartmentalise in such a way.

It was in that usually festive time between Christmas and New Year of 2012. As a childless and committed couple we’d been using this time to kick back and watch film. We’d had a huge year of celebrations, graduations, weddings, birthdays and travel – lots of travel. This was meant to be our unwind. We’ll indulge in film and a few good docos. We’d seen The Cove. That was difficult enough. We’d just finished Earthlings.

Our choice to become vegetarian was easily made. No longer could we turn a willful blindness to the treatment of animals in our culture, nor deny that inner impulse towards compassion that we, as fellow animals on the Earth, seem to possess.

I recall how liberating it was – to choose to live a lifestyle in line with my inner fundamental beliefs. I’d begun living a life that was more real, less manufactured. It involved a strange kind of “coming out”, where we had to go around telling everyone we were veggo now.

I remember thinking I’d have to give up being a “foodie”. But I love food, and the food we eat, so much more than I ever did before. I have a respect for it, and I am continuing to grow and understand it more.

Two years on and I have not looked back. Not once. I’ve never missed animal flesh from our diets. The food we eat is tasty, nutritious and satiating. And once meat is removed from the menu a whole new world of flavours opens up as one seeks to focus on what else goes into a meal. I get really excited about food!

Nahmaste

It’s a Selfish Thing

Why am I blogging?

Of course all that I have written previously is true. I have worked in adult education for about ten years and I do chase that spark of insight that knowledge, concept and idea sharing can bring. I love new ideas – those ideas that are new for me and new for others. I am an introvert I guess. I spend a lot of time in my head. But I have the extrovert’s at times insatiable compulsion to express outward into the world. What use are my thoughts, what use is my brain and my mind if I cannot express outwards in a meaningful way?

But why am I really blogging?

My lifestyle changed dramatically almost 14 months ago when I became a mother, having chosen to be at home for the formative years (though I can hardly proclaim to be the first parent who has turned to blogging as a way of developing their interests outside of motherhood – heaven forbid as a woman I can’t be completely fulfilled by simply being a mother and housekeeper). Yet we do things differently from many of our friends and even family. Some of these differences relate to parenting, others not. Our choices are always well thought out and researched. But it can be lonely.

Judgments can be stifling. Isolating. Loved ones can have a knack for passing judgement whilst proclaiming “not to judge” (I love them dearly still). So often I find myself yearning for someone to ask why we do X instead of Y. To be more interested in our well thought out, evidence based rationale than their own opinions of what is supposedly “right”.

So I find myself needing a voice. A vehicle by which to hone and express my own rationale not just on parenting, but on other topics I know and love – that to many seem so left-wing and strange. It’s a selfish thing. An indulgence. A way of self-assuring my own ego as it comes under fire.

Others will always have their opinions – as will you, dear Reader – and those will not always exist happily with one another. But I do value diversity of opinion – so hey, why not contribute to it?

Nahmaste.

Elusive Perfection

A peacefulness has befallen my frazzled soul as I sit down to write this. The calmness is refreshing, healing, rejuvenating. I can feel myself relax and come to accept the morning that has gone and the day that is to come.

I had one of those mornings. You know the type – the ones that are hard to explain why they’re hard, that perhaps only another parent would really get. Those mornings when everything goes haywire and all possibility of an organised, constructive day dissolves into nothingness, like a fraying safety rope one can’t quite grasp or a ray of sunlight on a cold day that doesn’t quite warm the heart.

My morning started with yoga. It went well. So far so good. Then shower and breakfast. Little Star is starting to make her independence known. She wants out of the high chair where she throws her fruit on the floor (does it bounce?) and onto my lap where she throws her fruit on the floor. She grabs my spoon, the rockmelon I’m eating, my coffee and spreads yoghurt everywhere. I let go of the flash of impatience which threatens. Not to worry, I’ll just wipe it up when we’re finished eating.

But Little Star is finished now. She needs her milkies. Her face and hands are quickly wiped and she’s lulled into a drowsy contentedness on the couch, in my arms, safe, warm and satiated. She’ll nod off soon. It’s a little earlier than expected but so be it. We walk tenderly to the bedroom, she rouses slightly and I continue feeding her as she drifts safely into slumber. A long process but I cannot bear to wake her.

I begin placing her in her cot and our peace is destroyed by Leczy walking in, making a racket, wanting to be close to her mum.

For me, today, it is just outside my tolerance levels. Little Star is awake and she won’t be resettled. I get angry. I’m so angry. I’ve had enough. I yell at the dog as she looks at me with those big eyes, her ears pulled back, her tail moving back and forth and her head low. It’s already 10 am, there’s fruit and yoghurt over the kitchen floor, the chickens have not yet been fed, the fire has gone out as I cannot nurture it and breastfeed a baby at the same time, it’s cold, there are seedlings about to die as I cannot seem to just get them in the ground, there’s a load of wet washing sitting in the machine I haven’t been able to hang out for two days, there are toys all over the floor, Little Star needs a bath and there’s a meal that still needs to be cooked.

It was supposed to all be done by now so I could get on with my day, so I could connect with my daughter, so that I could do something productive, something more than just maintaining a house. Who can find fulfillment in perpetually tidying? Where nothing is ever finished? Where life just circles and circles and circles around the elusive idea of a completed task?

This morning hasn’t been perfect – later as I clean the kitchen and cook the meal I wanted to with my daughter strapped to my back I realised I’d forgotten to feed Leczy.

Enter guilt stage left.

Little Star is sleeping peacefully now. We’re getting warmer as I’ve finally gotten some wet wood to burn, the chickens are fed, the eggs collected, the kitchen is clean (enough), dinner is cooked, Leczy is fed (I’ve apologised to the doggie with cuddles and scratches around the ears), Little Star is bathed and the wet washing is heaped in a laundry basket – one step closer to being hung to dry. The seedlings are still in punnets stretching for sunlight, and there are still toys all over the floor.

I am learning to be okay with that. It’s not perfect, though often times I find the need to revel in the imperfection of daily living. Relinquishing to the chaotic crazy playfulness that parenthood brings.

So, my fellow mums and dads how do you do it? How do you take it all on and keep your spirit? I’d love your comments.

Nahmaste.